Being a Better Writer: Balancing Beats and Exposition

Welcome back, writers, to the final Being a Better Writer installment of 2022!

I know, right? It really doesn’t feel like we should have come this far already, but … here we are. 2022 is drawing to a close in less than three weeks. As to why that would make this post the last of 2022, I still need my Christmas Vacation, which is usually around two weeks this time of year. Which means that, to my surprise, when I looked at the calendar today to check my schedule, I realized that if I wanted my customary vacation, this was going to have to be the last BaBW post of 2022.

Now, this doesn’t mean all the posts will vanish for a while. There’s always a Christmas post. And there are usually a few other posts scattered in there about the usual odds and ends. Plus my vacation won’t officially start until next week. So this week I’ll continue to chug along on that latest Jacob Rocke book, plus keep up with the usual (or is it “unusual” right now?) stuff.

Anyway, if you find yourself hungering for Being a Better Writer while I’m on my Christmas break, you can always browse a selection of the site’s classic posts! At this point, pretty much typing any writing question into the site’s search bar will bring you a BaBW post that touches on the topic. Nine years of Monday updates (since August of 2013) will do that.


All right, so that’s the Christmas break discussed, but we’ve got a few other items of important business to tackle before we get down to nuts and bolt’s with today’s post. The largest of which is pretty easy to guess: How’s Starforge doing?

The answer is pretty awesome: It’s doing great. The whole trilogy is. Now that another week has passed it’s pretty clear that this is definitely one of my strongest, if not the strongest, launches ever. Starforge is tearing it up on page reads and purchases, along with both the first two books in the trilogy. I’m not certain if anyone’s managed to finish it yet, since it is such a titan (you could fit six large paperbacks inside this juggernaut), but from what I’m hearing and seeing everyone’s loving the journey.

Although if you have finished it, do please consider leaving a rating or a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever you read and rate books. Ratings help new folks who haven’t heard about the series via word of mouth if they want to pick it up!

Now, related to this news item, and honestly the other big news item of the weekend, is a little snippet about Colony, the first book in the trilogy. It is a quarterfinalist in the Self-Published Sci-Fi Contest! The reviewers had some pretty nice things to say about it as well. Now it moves ahead to the next phase of the annual contest: culling for the finals!

We’ll see if it makes it. I hope it does. Regardless, it was pretty nice to see out of nowhere a bunch of nice words lavished on Colony about how much it was worth reading.


Okay, one last bit of news. I promise. And it’s short. If you haven’t seen it already, be sure you don’t miss last Friday’s post on the Ten Year Price Update. This weekend most of the price changes on a number of my books went through, but there are still a few that haven’t been completely updated (for boring technical reasons, quite honestly), but will in the coming weeks. The new prices are now up, the chart explains them in full, and if you’re curious about any of them you can hit that link to the above post.

Got it? Okay, good. It’s time to talk about today’s topic. Which, I will note, is a request topic! That’s right, we’re finally getting around to it! And I can very easily see why it is a request topic: because it’s a hard one!

If you hadn’t gathered the full nature of today’s topic from the title—and no shame there, don’t worry—the request for this post posited how one could properly balance their story beats with their exposition. This is a completely understandable topic to have concern about.

That said, it’s also a difficult skill to properly pull off in any book. How difficult? I’ve read award-winning titles that have swept notable awards from “important” organizations that have flummoxed their exposition and their story beats. This is something that writers of all experience levels struggle with.

It’s also something that you are not going to be getting perfectly the first time around. Or the second. Or the third. You can work on it, you can improve it, but the odds are that this is going to be one of the things your early editing folks look for. In fact, this is one of the things that the Alpha Reading looks for during that stage of editing. And wouldn’t you know it, I know for a fact that authors that sell tens of millions of books still have folks going through their manuscripts looking for exactly today’s topic and helping the author refine things.

My point being that this is a lifelong struggle for every author, and very much a part of the job that every author and writer, from the newest noob to the most decorated of wordsmiths has to pay close attention to.

I realize that may be upsetting to some of you, including perhaps the individual that requested this topic, but it shouldn’t be. Learning how to balance your exposition with your story beats—or better yet, carefully interweave them—is akin to learning exactly how much traction a race car’s tires have on each spot of pavement during a complicated, winding course. In other words it isn’t something you learn about and then forget, but something that will be important to keep in mind with every twist and turn of your book.

Okay, so with all this said, let’s hit the jump and start talking about the how as opposed to anything else. You ready? You know what to do.

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