Discussion in 'General Writing' started by kablooblab, Feb 10, 2011.
I hear that alot here but I don't know what it is and can someone give me an example of it?
Its when you start a book with a bunch of background information about characters, locations, etc...
The correct way to relay this information is by weaving it slowly into the book, as the information becomes relevant.
When you tell rather than show and it goes on and on in a huge block.
There was actually a thread quite recently with a long and heated discussion of what constitutes an infodump.
Generally, it's when the author gives the reader unnecessary information, or illogical information, or sometimes too much information. However, it also refers to the quality of the writing. Large blocks of exposition may be forgiven (or, god forbid, enjoyed) if they are well written. Infodumps must be poorly written, so that they call attention to the fact that they are overlong or unnecessary.
An info dump is an expression derived from 'info' short for information, and 'dump'. Information, the definition of which could include "knowledge derived from study, experience, or instruction". 'dump', in other words "to release or throw down in a large mass" is derived from the Middle English 'dumpen' or 'dompen', to fall suddenly/drop (of Scandinavian origin and relates in this situation to 'throwing down' information as described previously. A search on The Free Dictionary links 'infodump' to 'exposition', one of four rhetorical modes of discourse. Infodump is described as "when the presentation in fiction becomes wordy".
Kind of like that ^^
In fiction an infodump is usually (but not always) preceded by "and now Mr Bond you are going to die, but first I will explain my cunning plot..."
People always think of expositions in narratives when they talk about info dumps, but expositions in dialogues are as boring, if not more boring.
More boring, because they're usually unbelievably stilted. It's usually one character explaining some long thing to another character who logically should already know it.
Oftentimes, info dumps won't be delivered through dialogue, however. They can be a thought from the MC's point of view about how his mother always chose to wear red nail polish on Saturday nights. Unless this is somehow important to the story -- it isn't necessary. And of course they can be backstory info dumps too. Say you want to introduce a new character, but feel the need to give your reader some history about him/her. Besides telling your audience what their name is, and perhaps how old they are, you won't necessarily need to explain more. Unless of course some history involving them is important to add at the moment. As an example, say a five-year-old girl is shrieking at the top of her lungs and pulling her older brother away from a window. Why is she doing this? Unless you want to keep your reader in the dark, you might not need to tell them that when she was three her family's dog was struck dead by a bolt of lightning.
Hope this helps.
I don't mind being told about such little details about a char. Wearing red nail polish may not be important to the plot, it is, however, important to help me know the mother better. I don't usually see it as info dump, but part of char development.
^Yeah, it does give more info about your char. I was just throwing out an example. Other thoughts from a person's POV might not be so necessary. But that's just my opinion.
An info dump is a long piece of information that most readers of your work find boring and will skip over.
I agree with your statement.
Stories are about actions, not information. They are about events, not facts. Your characters and plot develop through these actions.
In my opinion, an infodump is when you throw out a bunch of information that no one cares about because you gave them no reason to care about it. No actions or events to make that information relevant and to weave it through by showing and not telling.
It's when the author's voice becomes louder than the character's and the plot's because it's just a long block of the author going on and on explaining something when the story and the characters could have acted out or made that background information more exciting themselves.
An info dump is where all boring words, sentences, and paragraphs used to relay information the author thinks is important, but can't figure out how to make interesting should be sent.
all that 'necessary' info should be worked into the story bit by bit via the narrative and dialog, not clumped together in a boring 'lesson'...
Anyone ever run across things we might call "The Opposite of an Infodump"?
These are concocted dramatic scenes where you're ladled out heaps of information you need to appreciate the gravity of the story. Granted, this happens in biography more than fiction.
It comes across as the kind of device that a ghost writer would employ-- faced with a moderately interesting subject's life, but one that ambled along at a more-or-less steady pace, they'll zero in on one day, one meeting, one encounter-- and find in it the nexus of all the various threads that make the subject noteworthy.
You'll know you're about to encounter one of these if you start reading a chapter that begins, "Sit down, Mr. Einstein. We've been looking over some of these formulas you've been working on... now, tell me...."
"Are you trying to suggest, Mr. Einstein-- that an atom could be split in two, and this would release tremendous energy?"
"I do think the science would suggest, and my observations confirm, that this is in the realm of possibility."
"But don't you realize what you're saying? The country that perfected this technology would have in its hands the most awesome weapon mankind had ever devised!"
"In that case, gentlemen-- I suggested we get started. Now."
That is explaining things through dialogue. Generally, that is what the author should do to avoid doing an info dump.
I get it, maybe. Still just kind of seems like an infodump. Plus, I actually kind of liked how you worded that, lol. Picturing Einstein dropping the dramatic "Now." is rather amusing.
I guess you're right. Storytelling is always going to be "condensing" information. The actual way Einstien's discoveries were utilized, I guess that would be plodding and seemingly endless, bled of the drama it deserves.
I suggest we drop this topic. Now.
At heart, I really see myself as a comedian.
That's good stuff, the Einstein dramatic now.
"Alright, then. Sergeant? I want you to get Mr. Einstein everything he needs. We haven't got one moment to lose!"
Everyone else left the room. The General adjusted his hat and stared out the window. The fate of the world was hanging in the balance.
Pre dawn, the island in Tinian in the Marianas... Einstein was exhausted. The last six years had been grueling. Standing by the plane, adjusting his goggles, he was approached by a young recruit. This kid could barely have graduated from high school!
"I want you to have this," the kid squeaked, and pressed a St. Christoper medallion into the graying scientist's hand. "Patron saint of travelers? Can't hurt, sir."
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