4 Questions To Ask To Avoid Info Dumps In Deep Point Of View by Lisa Hall-Wilson - Canada
No one likes reading an info dump, but we writers justify their existence because we’re sure the reader needs all this background information here, right now. Info dumps kill the pace and tension in your story and readers may just put down your book and walk away forever.
What Is An Info Dump?
“An info dump is a very large amount of information, usually backstory, supplied all at once in a narrative.” Backstory is important and vital to any character and story, but the reader doesn’t necessarily need to know all of what you know or have created. As any good introvert knows, people have to earn the trust to be told your entire lifestory, you don’t just verbally vomit on a stranger. It’s rude. *smile*
In an omniscient point of view, the kind of worldbuilding Tolkien used in The Lord Of The Ringsand The Hobbit is acceptable. Omniscient point of view though is largely out of favor with modern readers and acquisition editors.
It’s hard to ground the reader in time and place without frontloading a work with all the ways that world is different from our own world/reality/time/place. Whether you’re writing Steampunk, Space Opera, Edwardian romance, spec fic, etc etc — the key is to avoid large deposits of information and let the world unfold for the reader as the character sees it. If everyone in your story world is green with large antennae, construct an organic scenario that would cause your character to notice it — because we don’t often think/comment on things that seem every day or ordinary.
An Info Dump: Cassandra kept her claws rounded and painted which showed her pride in her appearance. The green-skinned passersby didn’t give her any notice. They kept their long antennae gleaming and straight. Her people were fastidious and prided themselves on their appearances. Not being noticed was a good thing.
Organic Worldbuilding: Cassandra examined the filed ends of her claws. Perfect. Her antennae twitched and she turned to find Steve behind her. His left antennae was bent and hung limp. Sickly splotches of purple marred his green skin. Everyone gave him a wide berth, covering their gills as they passed by. Would she be contaminated by association? She took a step back. “What happened to you? Are you contagious?”