10 tips to avoid info dumping

I really hate when I pick up a book and the author just dumps a bunch of information on me about the world or the characters they’ve created. I love exploring a world and characters, getting to know them all bit by bit and having moments at the start of a novel where I’m a little confused, I should be, I’m a stranger to this world and I don’t know anything about it. Let me revel in that alienness.

There probably millions of posts out there that you could quickly discover with an internet search, I’m not going to rewrite those or try to give you a seriously in depth analysis of the subject. This my top 10 tips on avoiding this pitfall:

  1. Be unobtrusive, secretive even
  2. Use dialogue
  3. Use a character’s thoughts
  4. Show it through background details
  5. Show it through media such as town criers, newspapers, letters,
  6. Use the narrator
  7. Avoid the ‘idiot lecture’ explaining things to someone else in story that they would/should already know (“As you know…”)
  8. Insert short pieces of information at a time, a scrap, a tantalising morsel
  9. Hang the information within the context of the action
  10. “In the past…”, “A thousand years ago…”, “In a galaxy far far away”, “Previously” – if your novel starts with anything like this, snag that chapter and dump into into a folder called “world building”, it’s reference material and not a part of the story – use it for sure, but only to build depth throughout the tale
  11. Bonus tip: do a search on this topic for examples of what is an what isn’t info dumping so that it’s clear in your mind as you write

One Comment Add yours

  1. Really good points. Thanks for them.

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