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Created by: Team English - Examples.com, Last Updated: June 10, 2024


In stories and movies, exposition is a crucial tool used intentionally by writers and directors. It helps set the scene, introducing important details about the setting, characters, and the plot right at the beginning. Think of it like the opening pages of a book or the first few minutes of a film where you get to learn who the characters are and where the story takes place. This background information makes it easier for the audience to follow along and feel connected to the story from the start. By giving viewers and readers this foundation, exposition makes the story more engaging and understandable, letting everyone enjoy the journey without feeling lost.

What is an Exposition?

An exposition is the part of a story that introduces important background information to the audience. This can include details about the setting, characters’ backgrounds, previous events, and the overall situation. Basically, exposition sets the scene for the main story, helping you understand who the characters are, where they are, and what might be happening to them. It’s like the beginning of a guided tour, where you get all the necessary information to enjoy and understand the rest of the experience.

Pronunciation of Exposition

The word “exposition” is pronounced as /ˌɛk.spəˈzɪʃ.ən/. Let’s break it down to make it simpler to pronounce:

  1. Start with the sound ek, similar to how you’d start saying “excellent.”
  2. Follow with spuh, where the “s” is soft and it blends right into a short “uh” sound.
  3. Next, emphasize the zish part, which should sound like “zish” in “delicious.”
  4. Finally, end with uhn, where the “u” is a quick and light sound, like the “u” in “cushion.”

When put together, it sounds like “ek-spuh-ZISH-uhn.” This makes it easier for you to say the word correctly in conversation.

Types of Exposition

Exposition is how a story shares important background details with you. Here are the different ways it can be done:

  1. Dialogue: This is when characters in the story talk to each other and share important information. It’s a natural way to learn about the story as the characters interact.
  2. Narration: Sometimes, a narrator will tell you directly about the background or setting. This is common in books and movies where a voice outside of the story fills you in on the details.
  3. Monologue: In this type, one character will give a long speech that tells you more about the story’s background or their own thoughts.
  4. Text or Title Cards: In films or TV, you might see words on the screen that explain the time period, location, or key events quickly and directly.
  5. Environmental Details: This method uses the setting itself to tell the story. Things like pictures on the wall or items in a room can give you clues about the story without anyone saying a word.
  6. Flashbacks: Flashbacks are scenes that take you back in time to show something that happened before the main story. This helps you understand the current events better.

Structure of an Exposition

The structure of an exposition in a narrative is designed to set up the story by providing essential background information. This setup is critical for helping the audience understand the context and the stakes of the narrative. Here’s how the structure typically unfolds:

  1. Introduction of the Setting: The exposition begins by establishing where and when the story takes place. This could be a historical period, a fantasy world, or a specific location in the modern world. The setting helps set the tone and mood of the story.
  2. Introduction of Main Characters: Early in the story, the key characters are introduced. Their personalities, backgrounds, and relationships to each other are outlined to give the audience a sense of who they are and what they want.
  3. Establishment of the Initial Situation: The exposition also sets up the initial circumstances of the plot. This includes what the characters are doing when the story begins and their immediate goals or problems.
  4. Presentation of the Conflict: While not always fully developed in the exposition, the initial conflict or the main challenge the characters will face is often hinted at or introduced. This helps create interest and suspense.
  5. Backstory: Relevant past events that affect the characters or the setting are often part of the exposition. This backstory can explain why characters behave a certain way or why certain situations are significant.

Synonyms & Antonyms For Exposition

Synonyms & Antonyms For Exposition


  1. Explanation: Making something clear or easy to understand by describing it in more detail.
  2. Description: Telling or writing about something so that someone can visualize or understand it.
  3. Clarification: Making something less confusing and more comprehensible.
  4. Elucidation: Providing insight or understanding through detailed explanation.
  5. Illustration: Using examples or images to make something easier to understand.
  6. Presentation: Showing or explaining something to people in a formal or organized way.
  7. Explication: Detailed analysis to uncover the meaning of something, often used in literary contexts.
  8. Disclosure: Revealing information that was previously hidden or unknown.


  1. Concealment: Hiding something or keeping it secret.
  2. Confusion: Making something unclear or difficult to understand.
  3. Obscurity: Something that is unknown or unclear because it’s not expressed well.
  4. Complication: Making something more difficult or complex than necessary.
  5. Misrepresentation: Giving a false or misleading account or impression.
  6. Hiding: Keeping something out of sight or not known to others.
  7. Cover-up: Deliberately hiding a mistake or improper act.
  8. Secrecy: Keeping something secret or not allowing information to be known.

Examples of Exposition in literature

  1. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee: At the start of the book, we learn about Scout Finch and her family living in Maycomb, Alabama. This sets up where and when the story takes place.
  2. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien: Bilbo Baggins is introduced as a hobbit living a quiet life in the Shire. Then, Gandalf the wizard arrives and changes everything, kicking off Bilbo’s adventure.
  3. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen: We meet the Bennet family and learn about their life in early 19th-century England. The arrival of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy adds tension and excitement to the story.
  4. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling: Rowling tells us about Harry Potter, a young wizard living with his cruel relatives, the Dursleys. We also learn about Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where Harry’s journey begins.
  5. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Nick Carraway moves to Long Island and becomes intrigued by his wealthy neighbor, Jay Gatsby. This sets the stage for the novel’s exploration of the American Dream and social class.
  6. “1984” by George Orwell: Orwell describes the oppressive society of Oceania, ruled by the Party and its leader, Big Brother. We also meet Winston Smith, who rebels against the regime.
  7. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger: We’re introduced to Holden Caulfield, a teenage boy struggling with growing up and feeling disconnected from society. His unique voice sets the tone for the rest of the book.
  8. “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien: Tolkien lays out the history of Middle-earth and the quest to destroy the One Ring. We meet Frodo and his companions, who set out on the epic journey.
  9. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins: Collins introduces us to Katniss Everdeen and the dystopian world of Panem, where children are forced to fight to the death in the Hunger Games arena.
  10. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte: We learn about Jane’s difficult childhood and her time at Lowood School. This background helps us understand her resilience and independence as she grows older.

Examples of Exposition in Sentences

  1. “The Lion King” introduces Simba and his home, the Pride Lands, where he’s destined for greatness as a young lion prince.
  2. In “Romeo and Juliet,” we learn about the feud between the Montagues and Capulets, setting the scene for the tragic love story.
  3. “The Odyssey” tells us about Odysseus’s journey home from the Trojan War, setting up his epic adventures.
  4. “Jurassic Park” explains how scientists use genetic technology to bring dinosaurs back to life, hinting at the chaos to come.
  5. “The Wizard of Oz” shows Dorothy’s ordinary life in Kansas before she’s transported to the magical land of Oz.
  6. “The Matrix” introduces the concept of a simulated reality created by machines to control humans.
  7. In “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” we follow Alice’s journey from boredom to a whimsical world down the rabbit hole.
  8. “The Princess Bride” begins with a grandfather reading a fairy tale to his sick grandson, setting the stage for adventure.
  9. “Game of Thrones” introduces us to the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the noble families vying for power.
  10. “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” starts with the Pevensie siblings’ evacuation during World War II and their discovery of the magical land of Narnia.

Examples of Exposition in Stories

  1. Fantasy Story: In a fantasy tale, the exposition might introduce a magical realm threatened by an evil sorcerer and the prophecy foretelling the rise of a hero to save it.
  2. Mystery Story: In a mystery narrative, the exposition might reveal a detective investigating a murder case, along with the suspects and their potential motives.
  3. Romance Story: In a romance story, the exposition might establish the backgrounds of the main characters, their initial meeting, and the romantic tension between them.
  4. Science Fiction Story: In a science fiction narrative, the exposition might unveil a futuristic society ruled by artificial intelligence, along with the rebellion seeking to overthrow it.
  5. Historical Fiction Story: In a historical fiction tale, the exposition might set the scene during a significant historical event, such as the American Civil War, and introduce the protagonists navigating that era.
  6. Horror Story: In a horror story, the exposition might describe a haunted house and the dark events that occurred there, setting the stage for the terror to unfold.
  7. Coming-of-Age Story: In a coming-of-age narrative, the exposition might introduce a young protagonist grappling with adolescence and the challenges of growing up.
  8. Thriller Story: In a thriller, the exposition might establish a sense of danger and suspense as a group of characters becomes entangled in a web of deceit and betrayal.
  9. Fairy Tale: In a fairy tale, the exposition might reveal a princess cursed by an evil witch and the quest undertaken by a brave hero to break the spell.
  10. Literary Fiction Story: In a work of literary fiction, the exposition might delve into the intricate relationships within a family or community, exploring themes of identity and belonging.

Examples of Exposition in Movies

  1. Star Wars: A New Hope: The beginning text crawl tells us about a big fight between good guys and bad guys in space, setting the stage for the adventure.
  2. Inception: One character explains to another how they can enter people’s dreams, laying out the rules for the audience to understand.
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: At the start, a narrator tells us about a powerful ring and the history of the world, so we know what’s at stake.
  4. Jurassic Park: The guy who made the park tells visitors how he brought dinosaurs back to life using science, setting up the excitement and danger.
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Harry learns from Hagrid that he’s a wizard and goes to a magical school, introducing us to the world of witches and wizards.
  6. The Matrix: Morpheus explains to Neo that the world he knows is fake, and the real world is controlled by machines, setting up the mind-bending plot.
  7. Inglourious Basterds: A Nazi officer questions a farmer, showing us the fear and tension in Nazi-occupied France during World War II.
  8. The Shawshank Redemption: We see a man wrongly convicted of a crime, giving us sympathy for him and setting up the story of his struggle for justice.
  9. Back to the Future: A scientist tells a teenager about his time machine and the dangers of messing with the past, setting up their wild adventure.
  10. The Avengers: Nick Fury tells a group of superheroes about a bad guy and a powerful object they need to stop, setting up their mission to save the world.

Examples of Exposition in Books

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling: We meet Harry Potter, who lives with his mean relatives, the Dursleys, until he discovers he’s a wizard and is invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Scout Finch tells us about her town, Maycomb, Alabama, and her family, including her father Atticus, as they navigate racial tensions and moral dilemmas.
  3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who loves a quiet life, is whisked away on an adventure by Gandalf the wizard and a group of dwarves to reclaim treasure guarded by a dragon.
  4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Nick Carraway moves to Long Island and gets caught up in the world of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious and wealthy man known for throwing extravagant parties.
  5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: The Bennet family, with its five daughters, becomes the focus of attention when a wealthy bachelor, Mr. Bingley, and his friend, Mr. Darcy, move into the neighborhood.
  6. 1984 by George Orwell: Winston Smith lives in a totalitarian society ruled by Big Brother, where the government controls everything, and rebellion is punishable by death.
  7. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: Holden Caulfield, a teenager struggling with growing up, recounts his experiences being expelled from prep school and wandering around New York City.
  8. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis: Four siblings are evacuated to the countryside during World War II and stumble upon a magical wardrobe that leads them to the land of Narnia.
  9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre, an orphan mistreated by her cruel relatives, finds solace and challenges at the oppressive Lowood School before becoming a governess at Thornfield Hall.
  10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: In a dystopian future, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the annual Hunger Games, where children fight to the death in a televised spectacle.

What is the Exposition in a story?

Imagine you’re meeting someone new. You might start by telling them a bit about yourself—where you’re from, what you like to do, maybe even some interesting facts about your family or your past. In a story, exposition is like that introduction. It’s where the author gives you all the background information you need to understand what’s happening and who the main characters are. Without exposition, the story might feel confusing or like you’re jumping in halfway through.

Where is Exposition used?

Exposition is usually found right at the beginning of a story, but it can pop up in other places too. For example, if a new character or location is introduced later on, the author might include a bit of exposition to fill you in on the important details. Sometimes, exposition is woven into the dialogue between characters, or it might come in the form of flashbacks or memories that reveal things from the past. Wherever it appears, the goal is always the same: to make sure you have all the information you need to follow along and enjoy the story.

How is Exposition Written?

Writing good exposition is all about balance. You want to give enough information to set the scene and introduce the characters, but you don’t want to overwhelm the reader with too much detail all at once. One way to do this is to sprinkle exposition throughout the story, rather than dumping it all in one big chunk at the beginning. You can also try to weave it into the action or dialogue whenever possible, so it feels natural and keeps the story moving forward. And remember, exposition doesn’t have to be boring! You can use descriptive language and vivid imagery to bring the world of the story to life and make it feel real to your readers.

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