I wrote a story that takes place in the middle of the action, and I am not sure if I started the story too late, because the world is completely different from ours and it would be hard to understand what's happening from the first 3 chapters, so how do you know if you started too late and failed to do important exposition, and how do you fix this without starting all over and starting from the very beginning?

2 Answers 2


How do you know? You have some major turns in your plot, yes? When the family has to throw our hero out because of that thing that happened? Or our hero doesn't head off to the monastery or training institute even though everyone does at that age? Or our hero is the age where your magical powers come in and hers come in way too strong or way too weak? Or whatever. Ask yourself, do the readers know the rules at this point?

If not, you don't need to start over. Heck, it's possible you didn't know the rules until you wrote this part. What you need to do is get those rules into the reader's heads somewhat earlier. Pure exposition, pages of "this is how my world works" is totally the worst way. The usual way is to have something happen to some other character that shows how everything works. Like they didn't do a thing because their family would throw them out if they did. Or they head off to the training institute. Or their powers come in. In addition to narrating whatever this "something" is that happens, your hero and other relevant characters can all discuss this. If you need to just flat out explain some rules, you can have a parent explain stuff to a child. "She has to go, Stephanie, everyone goes, you know that."

If you had a scene before that went "so then Stephanie and Sarah walked home from the store" you can totally give them a page or two of discussing or gossiping about something that happened to someone else, or sharing their excitement or fear about something that's scheduled to happen for them, or dreaming of some long-off something (the way in our world children might talk about their wedding or the house they are going to live in). This conversation will reveal both their characters and personalities and the rules of your world.


Get in beta readers. They can tell you whether they can figure it out. You may be too close to tell

(Of course, some may be able and some unable, but you have to work as best you can.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.