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In other words, explaining without info-dumping.
The reason info-dumps can be so tricky to avoid is because it’s often difficult for writers to determine how much is too much, and oftentimes, in an effort to avoid confusing readers, we overdo it. We explain way too much at once and end up freezing the story altogether to rant on and on about why elements of the story work the way they do. It’s like freezing the action in the middle of the movie to say and now for a little history…
It’s jarring, and it often results in bored readers.
What makes this even tricker is that the opposite problem is one that is just as deadly—not explaining enough, which results in losing readers entirely to confusion and frustration. This is a common problem as well, because as the authors of the story, we sometimes forget that readers aren’t privy to the information we have stored away in our skulls.
The key is to reach a sweet spot in between by spreading the information out throughout the novel.
What this requires is a prioritization of information. Right from the beginning, you need to determine what information is essential for readers to understand immediately— information about your characters, the setting, the world rules, etc. That information should be sprinkled throughout the beginning of your novel.
From there, determine what else is important, but you can hold off on revealing without utterly confusing your readers. History, backstory and more detailed explanations usually fall into this category, and this information should be spread out throughout the middle-end of your book.
Regardless of when the information is conveyed, the important thing is to make sure you spread it out. Have a couple characters talk about something important—then interrupt them. Show us the way your fantasy world works rather than explaining it over the course of a couple pages.
If you strategically sprinkle bits of information throughout your prose, you’ll teach your readers all they need to know to understand your story without drowning them in information—and that’s exactly what you want.
Have you ever written an info-dump? What did you do to fix it?
Are you drowning your readers in information? Avoid info dumps now. (Click to tweet)
Make your readers happy: strategically sprinkle bits of information throughout your prose. (Click to tweet)