In Badly Written Prose, I mention info dumping.
What is it?
Why do people complain about it?
Info dumping is when you throw too much information at someone too quickly. Not everything will make it through to the reader. Most will skip the dump. Or they will DNF. You don’t want that, do you?
It makes sense that a reader won’t stay with a book that just throws information at them without meaning or purpose. Even with meaning and purpose, it can still become too much.
This is true for professional writing of all kinds. This is why my professors and classmates joked about learning to BS through college. Without the BS, you’ll be info dumping.
Info dumping is a problem.
How can we solve it?
There are a rare few times when just the information is required. When only the information is required, it’s not an info dump. But still the goal is to make it as easy to read as possible. Skip out on excess.
Such as a party invite:
The invite has very little details.
The details are spaced out and made to be easy to read.
I won’t write sentences here. Just the basics.
These are “just the information” situations. Skip the excess and leave only the info.
For anything that requires full sentences? We need a different strategy.
The main way is to spread out the information. When writing a technical paper or an essay for college, I could use quotes. Many of them wanted me to. But I couldn’t just throw quote after quote after quote. I had to say something between every point and different person. My thoughts had to be injected into the body of work.
When prose writing, it’s the same thing. Spread out the information. No one minds learning something about the world, the people, or the area; just have it be a conversation not monologue. Monologues rarely work out well. Or cut the moment’s knowledge in half and put it earlier or later in the work. Do we have to know every little detail about every characters right now? No.
Actually… Do we have to have every little detail of every character ever? No. Delete it.
Again, doesn’t matter what we’re writing, you have to think: Is this necessary? Does this help the narrative? Does this get my point across? Does it help me? Does it get the readers engaged or excited or something about whatever it is I’m writing?
I did so much deletion when I went through college. So many papers that started with certain quotes and point of view and ending up completely different. Because I couldn’t back it up properly. I couldn’t make it work. I deleted the excess and streamlined the work.
Prose is the same. Delete the unnecessary and streamline the work. If it doesn’t help the story move forward, it’s not needed.
Info dumping doesn’t have to be monologues or paragraphs.
It can be one line of useless information. Just one detail that doesn’t fit. When you meet a character for the first time, there’s things you can know off the bat and others you don’t care about at all.
Don’t tell me right away this brand new character is an orphan. Let me know his beard reaches the edge of his shirt. Think when you have that small conversation with someone while waiting on line at a store, what can you know right away? Anything more than that is info dumping.
Watch for it. Seek it when editing.
As a said: Info dumping is perfectly fine in a first draft.
During edits, it’s one of the first things to go. It’s trash. And it’s part of the reason why your first draft is a trash fire.
Either it’s a “just the information” situation where you toss everything besides the absolutely needed info; you need to spread out the information; or it should be deleted.