1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Infodumping

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by wordwalker, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    1,474
    434
    83
    One trick I've come up with to keep characters from giving information to the reader: Start with the assumption that people don't talk about what a thing is, they jump past that to what they think it's going to do to (or for) them and how they'll cope with it. So instead of a frontier captain saying

    it might be

    In other words, don't add background just because the conversation has come close to why a thing is that way, keep the talk just ahead of explaining itself until it's the right moment for a character to back up and explain or argue or muse over the thing's nature as well as its effects.

    Thoughts?
     
    Jessquoi and Chilari like this.
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,300
    3,711
    413
    Yes, that's basically the approach I prefer as well. I will also go so far as to suggest being suspicious of the idea that you ever have to back up and explain most things outright. Readers are pretty smart; they'll put the pieces together. Resist the urge to explain. Sometimes it is necessary, of course, but many times the story is much better off without it.
     
  3. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    2,049
    659
    113
    Yes, quite. Information doesn't need to be explicit. You can build it up like a zigsaw puzzle. The first example is like giving the reader the whole bottom left corner of the 500-piece puzzle; the second example is like giving one piece. Give enough single pieces and it soon becomes clear what the full picture is, even if there are gaps; give too much at once and the fun is taken away.
     
  4. Motley

    Motley Minstrel

    87
    18
    8
    I also agree. A character's reaction to whatever is going on should be enough for relatively intelligent readers to figure out some of the back story. Never insert textbook.
     
  5. Jamber

    Jamber Sage

    264
    107
    43
    That's neat, Wordwalker.
    Thanks for the idea.
     
  6. Addison

    Addison Auror

    1,794
    357
    83
    Giving info to readers can be done the same way you describe characters, by thoughts, actions and dialogue. But yes it's better to do it in bits.
     
  7. cibir

    cibir Acolyte

    6
    0
    1
    Definitely. Great tip. You've gotta stick it into the action, feed it to the reader slowly and subtly.
     
  8. Subcreator

    Subcreator Minstrel

    59
    2
    8
    What I try to do is include action in with dialogue. If I've really got to explain something, like backstory, then I figure out why the characters would talk about or remember it, and then mix that in with a scene where they are reacting to something or interacting for some, even tangentially related reason. It may not be for everyone, but I did get some good feedback on that from the creative writing teacher at my university.

    Essentially, I did the same thing you're suggesting, and my MFA trained professor agreed.
     
Loading...

Share This Page