Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Writer's Corner: Disguising That Info Dump!
I'm guessing I don't need to lead you guys into this week's topic. We've all read them before. Those books that start off by throwing pages upon pages of back story and world building info at you. Possibly in some very long winded dialogue or character reflection. Some of us like them. Others not so much. How do you tell what is enough info to interest a reader and what will make their eyelids droop?
On a personal level, I don't mind the info dump if it's done seamlessly. By that I mean if the info is meshed well into the MC's thoughts or comes at an appropriate juncture. Sometimes the info dump is even necessary for the reader to understand the plot. This is especially true in paranormal, dystopian or alternate history novels where the readers may be picking up the book in the middle of the action. Strangely enough, I don't find info dump so necessary in fantasy because I'm pretty much expecting something far out.
Conversely, I don't mind books that throw you in the deep end and slowly drop nuggets of wisdom here and there. Sure things are a bit confusing a first but eventually everything unfolds and half the fun is getting there right?
At this point, I feel I need to confess that this post is a knee jerk reaction to my mindless trawling of Goodreads reviews over the last few days. There are just so many comments about how slow some books are or how readers disliked a book because they didn't know what was happening.
So if there's one thing I've learned from my Goodreads stalking it's this: You cannot, I repeat, cannot please everyone. So stop trying. There is no magical formula when it comes to info dumping. As a writer, you just have to follow your own gut instincts and unless there's ten pages where you describe a character and then go on to tell us who all their family members are and which planet they come from, than you should be fine.
This post is pretty insightful huh? I wish I could take my own advice. I'm off to trim some info dumping fat!