“Then where? If it’s important to the story, it’s gotta be at the beginning.”
“No. No it doesn’t”
“Then where? How?”
Sneak that shit in through the side door, I said.
Make it subtle, I added.
In fact, make it so damn subtle that the reader doesn’t even notice. All the reader knows is that they have the necessary information needed to follow along with the prose without being lost.
There are four ways to correct the fuckery of a complete and utter information dump. Wait, there might be more, or even less – who knows – but, the point is, information dumps can be avoided or fixed.
1. Don’t be pushy
Start And End The Story In The Right Places.
You have notes. Many and several piles of discombobulated notes that pull you in every direction. You take a deep breath. You sit. You begin to write like a muthafucker. Your boondoggle is in full gear. That’s not good.
Starting in the correct place with your prose means that you don’t throw out two or three pages of useless bullshit that makes the reader want to toss the writing aside and get a lobotomy. Hey, it could happen.
One way to get over this dump is to scatter the information throughout the piece. Breakup the info dumps and strategically place them throughout the text. Use dialogue – STAY away from lectures, long tirades, dissertation, diatribes, and excessive information in dialogue – to sneak in little snippets of info. Side Note: Just because it’s placed in quotes does’t make it good dialogue. Little tidbits is key.
Another way to get past the info dump, wait for it…wait a little longer just for dramatic effect…
Eliminating it altogether usually works the best too.
In short stories, many writers try to end too abruptly, causing info dumps. Allow that sucker to come to a gentle and natural end. Consider it the Ex-laxing of the story. Let the story introduce and resolve all relevant elements throughout the prose.
Don’t be pushy. Like a fine wine, let your story breath. Let it relax.
2. Details. Details. Details. How About Some Fucking Details?
This is a fine line. Too many details and the reader will want to give you a kung-fu throat-kick and laugh as you gasp for air. Too little and your writing will appear sloppy and unfinished. And, see aforementioned throat-kick. What to do…
A picture is worth a…blah, blah, fuckity blah.
Writing in descriptive form is done through the use of senses. Describe things vividly, colorfully, and characteristically through the use of POV senses. Use body language to portray an argument or infighting instead of drawn out narrative. Use a snarled lip quip to get across the feeling of anger, pain, or even hate instead of getting into how the main character can’t stand so-and-so.
Don’t be boring. But, don’t be excessive. Be just right.
3. Develop Your Characters Or Kill Them, Whichever Is Easiest
So, you may not want to kill your characters right away, but it may be necessary in order to use it as a way to divulge that brain-eating amoeba that your character, Sir Francis Swimsalot, developed while swimming in the Amazon. It’s better than getting all scientific and shit and will use less narration.
Add tension. Add an argument. Add sexual tension. And, who doesn’t love arguing. Wait, uh…sexual tension? YES. Emotional arcs in writing work. Very well, in fact.
Throw in what fits for your story. Show it. Describe it. Vividly. But, not too much. Make the information dumpage matter to the characters and it will matter to the reader too.
4. The Uninformed Character
Introducing a character who doesn’t know what is happening is a good way to bring an info dump into the story in a subtle, and manageable way. It allows another character to explain what’s happening. Done correctly, it avoids the whole “As you know Bob” prattle that plagues less developed writing.
“As you know, Bob…” this is when the characters tell each other things they obviously already know. It’s simply idiot lecture. It loses the reader. In fact, Bob can just fuck off right here and now. Goodbye Robert.
Avoid it at all costs, every solitary penny’s worth. It’s unnecessary, unwanted, unintelligent, and ugly-assed writing.
Final Words: Haha! It’s my website, so yeah, I get to add a last word.
Be as stealthy as a church mouse when including information. Your readers are smart. Usually, anyway. Scribe-worthy jimble jamble amounts to nothing more than an aphorism in your writing.
Don’t jar your readers into sheer boredom. The rule of less is more has an effect. Know when too much is, well, too damn much.