Hidden Exposition

The Story Toolkit Podcast spoke about “invisible” or “hidden” exposition in one of its recent episodes. Hiding your exposition in radio drama is tricky business. Teleplays and film scripts have the ability to point to visual cues; audio does not. Currently, the podcast listening audience seems to be in love with overly wrought exposition. This is the nature of the podcast fiction set (or podficts) in which a fictionalized podcast has a character mostly monologuing the story.

Great audio drama however hints implicitly, as opposed to announces explicitly. When the listener is drawn in through short-hand dialogue or muted expressions of the actors, the characters take on a deeper life. Real people interact through snippets, implications, and inferences. Few people besides the very young, the very stupid, or those suffering from a faulty “reason governor” speak explicitly every thought that comes to mind.

Consider, that instead of telling the audience everything that’s going on in your Audio Play; use the absence of information as motive for your character and to drive the plot. Add mystery by doling out small portions of background information. Give your audience something to work out in the ambiguity. Was that line said in jest? Or is there some deeper subtext to his response? Was she truly concerned about his injury? Or did her hesitation suggest she had something to do with the poisoning? Don’t announce it’s the fiftieth wedding anniversary of George and Selma. Have the reactions of the guests, and the guests of honour provide the context and the relationships in the crowd.

Good audio drama is easy to follow. Excellent audio drama has layers of subtext that requires close listening.

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