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Mon May 09, 2011 12:50 pm
Dynamo says...

Info-dumping is when you bog down the narrative of your story with paragraphs of information that, while helps explain a character's history or how an object works, contributes very little to what's happening at that point in time in the story. We've all done it at one point or another, I'm especially notorious for it. Although I like to think I'm getting better at reducing and spreading out technical and historical information, I'd still like some tips on how you guys deal with info-dumping.

Here's a method I used quite recently in my own story. I'm working on the first chapter right now, and I'm trying to do as much as I can to establish the characters, the location, and a brief history of the world to help the readers understand a little more about the inner workings of their society. Instead of bogging down the entire thing in narrative, I turned all the information into dialogue. The main character and his friends are attending school and the teacher begins giving them a quick overview of the history of the world, which leads into a lesson on prominante historical figures, or heros from the past if you will. This grabs the main character's attention because he holds great respect for people who protect others, and encourages the teacher to tell them more. The conversation soon shifts from heros to villains and the teacher starts talking about a horrible king that lived a long time ago and who used his powers over darkness to rule. This begins to establish one of the story's reaccuring themes, that those who can control the powers of darkness are always consumed by it in the end. This becomes a major issue for the main character because later he finds out that he also has the power to control darkness.

Another way I find that helps against info-dumping is to take some time and think about where you're going to place certain information. For example, in my story the main character and his mother have lived in the same house as another family since the main character was born. Because of that, the main character grew up with the son of the other family and the two of them are like brothers. Instead of explaining this when the main character's best friend comes in, the best thing to do in my opinion is wait until the two of them get home before explaining it, that way the readers can see that they live in the same house.

Anyway, I'm curious to see how the rest of you deal with info-dumping. Please give me some tips, as well as sharing them with everyone else.
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Mon May 09, 2011 12:55 pm
Lava says...

I tend to info dump a lot. But when I read what I've written I take out the entire chunk of info and I set it aside (I use One Note, so I literally set it aside) and pick lines from that and incorporate into my story differently at appropriate places.
Pretending in words was too tentative, too vulnerable, too embarrassing to let anyone know.
- Ian McEwan in Atonement

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Mon May 09, 2011 1:39 pm
Dynamo says...

I do that too, but I just use a seperate word document where I cut and paste all my "out-of-place" paragraphs to store them for later.
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Tue May 10, 2011 10:49 pm
lilymoore says...

Most of what I do is cut. Once it's all in there, I cut-cut-cut-out every single thing that doesn't, in any way, contribute to the movement and development of the story (because really, most of what we write, we really don't need). I actually wrote an article in the Knowledge Base at one point about info-dumping and KISSING (keeping it simple stupid) *goes to find a link* right here!

So yeah, that article really says how I do!
Never forget who you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.

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Wed May 11, 2011 3:19 am
Rosey Unicorn says...

For me, I only info dump what's needed, after questions about what is going on have arisen. Which means starting with a situation that requires an info dump, then working the info dump in as the character goes about what they're doing.

Another trick I use is getting it in the character's voice. Then it sounds a lot less like an info-dump and more like the character musing on a situation. It tends to require a certain situation, but it works well. Makes the information flow more smoothly with the narrative and forces you to be relevant.
You know you're a writer when you're not alarmed at hearing voices in your head, you can't read a book without analyzing it for plot & characters and you consider something you nearly killed yourself to write the most rewarding.

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Tue May 17, 2011 7:08 am
Snoink says...

I really, really like what you do, Dynamo! :D

For me, I tend to not give enough information about the story, especially in the beginning? It's not necessarily a good thing! But, I love revealing things with dialogue.

I also love revealing things with stories. In the novel that I am currently writing, I have tons of fairy tales intertwined with the actual narrative (which is composed mainly out of diary entries). Anyway, the fairy tales give you a quick idea of what this society and they give you an interesting story without being completely info-dumpy on you. Stories with a story! It's an awesome thing.

On a related note, I love "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" for this reason (I mean the stories within the story). That book is completely full of awesome, but I love how all the stories are told so that you really get absorbed about Jenner and Nicodemus and so on... even though that's not the main part of the story! It's excellent, it is. So, yeah.

The trick with these stories is to make it sound interesting. If you're just telling the story and there is no sparkle in it, it's better to not tell the story at all.
Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.

"The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly." ~ Richard Bach

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