1. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Info-Dumping

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jwatson, Aug 2, 2009.

    What exactly is considered info-dumping?
    I ask this because I am editing my novel.
    There is a point in it where my character is traveling the streets of a country I have created. He has just acquired a horse, and I begin to write about how the city is divided into five parts and their names, thought not complicated names or anything, just north, south, etc.
    Is this info-dumping? Should I just say he traveled to the western residential area, without letting the readers know the way I have divided it? I suppose, once I do write western residential, it will become quite clear, but, any thoughts on this , thanks :)
     
  2. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Infodumping is where you tell your readers a load of information about the backstory when it has no real use as far as moving the plot is concerned. That is infodumping, it would be better for him to ask a resident and find out, or to hear it in conversation.
     
  3. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I see what you mean, but he is a resident so that would be weird. I'll try to figure something out, or I might just leave it out or leave it in because it really is only one sentence long.
    Thanks Gallow
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Anytime you start explaining background information, you risk infodumping. Always defer giving out background as long as opossible, and always deliver less than the reader wants.

    The worst kind of infodump is the prologue or first chapter history or geography lesson. Start with the story, and don't start handing out background info until your readers are just about begging for answers. Then give the reader a taste, but leave the reader hungry.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!... info-dumping is not just spewing backstory, gg... it's the rambling on at length about any info that you think the reader needs to know, instead of dishing it out in digestible bits here and there...
     
  6. Eutheria
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    Eutheria Member

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    Dumas (and Brust in a novel emulating Dumas) had a tendency to infodump. A character might be approaching a bridge and as readers we learn the history and politics behind the bridge and a linguistic lesson on what its current name means. The bridge never shows up again and has no significance other than adding flavor. But then if I remember correctly Dumas was paid by the word.
     
  7. Rumpole40k
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    Rumpole40k Banned

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    Am I the only reader that skips such dumps?
     
  8. hoodwinked
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    hoodwinked Member

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    I wish I could skip infodumps. I try, but then feel like I'm being a lazy reader and cheating on the book, so then I go back and suffer through it anyway.

    I don't think what you're talking about is infodumping, Jwatson. Especially if it's one sentence long, (unless it's a very, very, very long sentence). You could post it, and ask again?
     
  9. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I will post it, though, this is just a rough draft so if you see anything stupid don't point that out, I merely want to know if it contains info-dumped or not. Thanks

    "James left the castle and obtained a horse from one of the many small stables that was open to Captains. Each city was divided into central, eastern, and western residential and market areas. James lived with a woman named Emma, and her daughter Sophia, in Western Residential."

    on his way home, I add : "Perhaps it was James’s lack of female company that he felt attached to Emma. When he told her of her husband’s death he had felt an unexplainable closeness to her that he had never felt with anyone else.
    The shimmering moonlight showed the city for what it really was: beauty. James found that the capital city was much cleaner than the others. It was said in a previous time to be a city of opportunity, but James knew that ideology had long faded away."

    ^^ keep in mind this is incomplete. It is quite obvious the description is vague it is just pure rough draft I'd like to know if you consider there to be too much info-dumpage thanks.

    originally, there was more about his relationship between them, but I scratched that out deciding I could add that it somewhere more fitting.
     
  10. hoodwinked
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    hoodwinked Member

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    Do you think that sentence is needed? Absolutely needed?
     
  11. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    No, but I figured that if I'm throwing in a paragraph about the plot it would be fine, but it's not necessary anyways.
     
  12. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I don't see a problem with it. It helps me visualize the city better.

    My favorite writer, Dean Koontz, always shares information like this, sometimes for a few paragraphs.
     
  13. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like being given a rough outline of things to start with. Had your book spent 5 chapters in the city, describing only local detail, I might form a mental picture of a big square city to hold them, and then read in chapter 6 that the city is triangular in shape, it would annoy me! Happens too often, I think. It's just a casual outline in one sentence, it sure doesn't hurt to keep it in.

    Infodump is when Umberto Eco spends 3 chapters describing a tapestry on the back wall ;)
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It isn't quantity that defines an infodump. It is that the author interrupts or delays the story to give the reader information that is not necessary at that point in the story, possibly unnecessary at any point.

    Adding color is fine, but if it interferes with the flow of the story, it shouldn't be there.
     
  15. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I don't know, if I were reading it in a full novel text, that it would jump out at me as an info dump at least for the first paragraph, as it does seem to give pertinent information to the story. However, the second paragraph... Is that supposed to be spoken dialog?

    The shimmering moonlight showed the city for what it really was: beauty. James found that the capital city was much cleaner than the others. It was said in a previous time to be a city of opportunity, but James knew that ideology had long faded away."

    This sounds more like narrative, especially the first sentence there. As narrative I think it works okay. Maybe I was just misinterpreting your quotation marks. :)

    Info-dumps can be in dialog too. When we have a character doing the "Well you know," bit, just to tell the reader something...along with other examples of that I'm sure someone here can expand on, since my brain is fried goo tonight.
     
  16. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    No, that wasn't dialogue, that was my failure at description :p
     
  17. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I don't think it was a failure at description. The only things I would change would be "beauty" to beautiful, "cleaner than other cities" (so that it isn't confused with other people, and commas on either side of " , in a previous time," Otherwise it is fine as far as narrative third person POV writing. :)
     

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