The Dreaded Info Dump

dumpI was rewriting a chapter yesterday and when I read it to my critique group, I didn’t need them to tell me what I was doing wrong.

I knew I was doing the Dreaded Info Dump.

What’s that? you might ask.

Well, if you’re a reader it’s something you hopefully will not see in a book. It goes something like this:

Mary realized that it was Dr. Smith. He had treated her for bunions three years ago. Then again two years later for a heel spur. Now she was there to see him for an ingrown nail, but suspected it was much more than that. For two weeks her toe had been hurting. It had first been a slightly pink color. Then a few days later a little brighter red. Then after a week it had started getting really nasty. Finally a day ago she realized it was time to go see her favorite foot doctor.

Yes, I know we wouldn’t be interested in a story about her feet, but imagine that the story was a romantic suspense and all that information was about what had happened to the heroine in the last three months – an info dump.

Much like the person in the photo I posted, info dumps inundate a reader with too much info at one shot and in general, are boring. It’s like reading an encyclopedia entry for your hero or heroine.

If you need to provide the reader some backstory, it should be layered throughout the chapter and provide subtle hints and information about what’s put the protagonists in their current situation. In fact, the less you say and make the reader intuit, the more they will be drawn into the story you are writing because the reader is participating in the story.

Of course, don’t make it so confusing or obtuse that the reader will say, “I just don’t get it,” and disengage from the story.

The hints should be clear and lead the reader toward an understanding of what’s happening. They should be like the breadcrumbs that Hansel and Gretel leave behind, enough so they can be followed to a particular point where you, the writer, are leading them.

How do you know you are doing the dreaded info dump as a writer? Look for long paragraphs filled with too much information. Dense paragraphs like that are a clear sign that something is up that you should revisit.

I hope you found this Tuesday Tip helpful.

Also, don’t forget this week’s b’day bash. Just visit any of the blogs listed below this week and leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win a prize from me! At Barbara Vey’s blog, there are tons of other prizes as well!

I’ll be visiting all of these blogs and if you’ve left a comment at any of them, you’ll also be eligible to win a $25 Godiva gift card! The more times I see your name at the different blogs, the more your chances improve to win the gift card. So take a moment and stop by one or all to improve your chances of winning a prize.

The contest ends on Friday, March 13th at midnight EST, so be sure to get your comments in there on time!

Barbara Vey’s Beyond Her Book Blog for lots of fun and giveaways!

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Harlequin Paranormal Romance blog:

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0 thoughts on “The Dreaded Info Dump”

  1. Caridad, I had just written a paragraph and was wondering if it had too much info. I decided to take a break and came here to see your Tuesday Tip. I laughed at what a crazy coincidence that your tip was exactly what I needed. As usual, thanks for your sharing your wisdom. And Happy Birthday!

  2. Caridad, this is a great post! Info dumping is one of the things new writers do often. It is surely something that has to be worked out for most. It’s so helpful to have writers like you to show the way!

  3. Caridad,
    I find your tip very helpful. I tend to want to make sure I get everything in—to lay all the facts out first. Which is NOT the way to go. Thank you,

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