The Info Dump

I always have the same issue toward the end of my first drafts- Info dumps. When my loose ends need tying up, or sub plots start to link with the main narrative, I dump information like a steaming, stinking cow pat.

The big problem comes with trying to sort through the cow shit to find the diamond. What is necessary? What has been touched upon already that can be cut? What can be left for another chapter, another book? All these questions run through my head, but I can’t sort and cut during the drafting process. I have to keep the blinkers on, and power through. I’m not a planner, so the end of my first drafts are usually a whirlwind in my mind, and I must keep momentum.

I dump and run…

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I lift the metaphorical writing rug, and brush the shit under it, until I can’t leave it any longer, and then I come at it with a broom, hoover, flame thrower… whatever is needed during editing. That’s what editing is for, is it not?

As a reader, I don’t mind a small block of information being dumped on me, but I don’t like to be dumped on from a great height. As a writer, I try to drip feed information throughout the narrative and dialogue, but I will hold my hands up and admit that I too can leave a little dump or two dotted about.

I’ve heard mixed responses from other writers. Some think that info dumps are okay if they’re paced throughout dialogue, others feel that they should be sorted before editing as it can be a headache to sort info dumps after the draft is complete, and a few even think that the mere mention of an info dump earns you the title of ‘lazy’ writer or ‘poor’ writer.

Chill out, I always sort it. I’ll give myself a little credit and say that I can work through a good dump! … giphy (46).gif

What are you thoughts on info dumps? How much is too much? What is your technique for combating/ sorting an info dump?

 

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3 thoughts on “The Info Dump

  1. One chapter in my first novel draft ever was pure info dump. Looking back on it, I still cringe. It was quite literally one piece of spewed fact after another. Not pretty 😛 I’ve gotten much better at it. Pacing is key, I think. Lean towards the foreshadowing.

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  2. Here’s one idea, if there is just too much “stuff” then look over a chapter and try to brake it into two chapters. I’ve been finding that chopping up longer chapters has the ability to make for more fast paced, scene based moments that the reader will enjoy or be gripped by instead of-as you mentioned-fall into the cow pie of your own steaming frustration, so to type. Faithriven is right in pacing, but if you make chapters smaller the ability to pace anything might be easier one bite at a time. Eating elephants young lady, eating elephants.

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  3. I try to make info as brief as possible and expand on it later, if necessary.

    Personally, I find that an info dump can be a little tedious to get through. I remember one book series I read in which the info dumps were obvious and not only did they become tough to read, but I even considered skipping past them. While I didn’t skip, I did stop reading the series three books in. The info dumps weren’t the only reason, however, as each book in the series followed a specific formula that I simply tired of reading.

    Anyway, info dumps aren’t bad as long as they aren’t bad. I mean, if they’re kept as brief as possible or spread out in some way. That’s just my opinion, though.

    Finally, for an idea on how to handle info dumps, maybe you could have separate, optional sections that would serve as the dumping ground for all of the detail you may not want to go into throughout the actual story. For example, and this is just something I’m making up on the fly here, let’s say you had a fantasy book called Rord of the Lings, and in this book you had separate species called Warves and Delves. Now, you could go into the detailed histories of each of these species in the story, and perhaps bore a few people along the way. Or, you can only include the parts of the histories that are absolutely necessary to the story and have everything else somewhere outside the actual chapters, maybe between chapters, in sections dedicated to exploring the lore in a more detailed way. These sub-chapters would be optional for the reader and can be skipped, for anyone who isn’t interested in the specifics. Just a thought.

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