Over the last two days, I’ve seen the Expository Friend everywhere…in books, TV shows and movies. I’m thinking that, for the sake of good writing, the WGA should put a ban on the Expository Friend into our next contract with the studios and networks.
The Expository Friend is the character who exists only so the hero or heroine can reveal what they are thinking and feeling, what they are conflicted about, and what they intend to do about it.
The Expository Friend also comes in handy for telling the hero things they already know that we, the audience, do not (the big clue is when the Expository Friend starts any sentence with the words: "As you know" or "As we discussed," or "Remember when we," or "You realize that if you do this you," etc. etc.).
The Expository Friend is usually the frumpy single or married best friend/co-worker/next-door-neighbor/sibling of the romantic lead and is, in every case, a completely pointless character that could be removed from the movie/tv show/book without losing a thing.
Any time you see the Expository Friend, you are looking at tangible evidence that the screenwriter is either incredibly lazy or doesn’t have the talent to reveal character in any other way except, well, to have them step up and tell us directly who they are and what they are feeling.
The Expository Friend violates the basic rule of good screenwriting: Show don’t tell.