Sin #8: Information overload!
For some strange reason, a lot of ‘writers’ feel the need to infodump within the first few pages of their novels – and most won’t stop there.
It’s an easy for them to get their point across without having to waste of lot of time thinking about the structure of the plot, or using those pesky literary devices that make a great novel. It enables them to jump from interesting scene to interesting scene without having to build up that pesky tension or conflict.
It’s lazy beyond belief and quite insulting to readers.
How many times have you read a conversation between two characters discussing something people would never discuss in real life?
BOB: Morning dude, looks like another day in the old boring office! *high five*
FRED: Don’t call me dude, you know how it upsets our boss when we talk in surfer speak
BOB: Yeah and we don’t want him kicking off and shouting at us like he seems to do at least one time a week
FRED: Exactly, then we might not get those promotions we’re both after
BOB: Why are we talking like this?
FRED: I slipped us both some pills I found in a dumpster…
Why the hell would Bob and Fred need to remind each other that they are both going for promotions? Or that there boss kicks off once a week? They both know this already. They might discuss the two facts but they wouldn’t lay it out so matter of factly. It’s insulting the writer feels that we couldn’t figure it out if he laid out the information in realistic day to day conversations and situations.
When it comes to giving the reader required information, try writing down exactly what they need to know and attempt to fit it into your novel rather than cram it in with a crowbar.
Too much information can bring the reader out of the story and back into the boring real world; or just plain bore them to death! I won’t talk about one of the more recent culprits because it’s a sticky subject to *COUGH* Da Vinci Code *COUGH COUGH*, sorry about that I must be coming down with something.
The only good place for an infodump is a first draft. By all means dump away in the preliminary draft of your book. It’s a good idea to get everything down on paper and THEN begin to cut it back and put it in a sensible order. By detailing everything it becomes possible to see which parts need to be stripped back and which parts need plumping up a little bit.
But when you revise, remove these huge steaming piles of data dumps! Put them into a separate document if you want, and use them as your own reference material but whatever you do – don’t turn your MC into Mr. Exposition!