Sorry I am late, I pulled very late-nighter getting a book to my editor.
Info-dumps: the places in a novel where a writer dumps way too much info on to the page, thinking that the reader needs all this stuff to understand what is going on. In the writer’s head, they are paramount to the reactions of the characters and the forward motion of the story.
Info-dumps take place in every genre, most often in these instances:
- In a standalone, when a new character enters the action or is brought up.
- In a series, when a character from a previous series book enters the action, or is brought up.
- When the writer is trying to do world-building that is crucial to the plot.
We all know not to do info-dumps. But we need the info. Below is an info dump that I have rewritten to show how to spread that info out into a scene. To set it up, we know Charlie, a detective, and the scene takes place in cop-central.
Charlie shoved the papers across the desk went across the room for coffee. He raised the cup to his mouth and sipped. It was hot, blacker than sin, and strong enough to melt the cheap metal spoon as he stirred in more sugar.
The woman walked into the room. She was stunning, five-ten, blond, blue-eyed, and curvy in all the right places. She moved like a dancer, like she had been dancing on her toes for all her life, graceful and beautiful and damn. She should have worn a halo and wings. Her dress was red and fit her like a man’s hopeful hands had sculpted it onto her. She was heading to his desk.
Charlie put his cup down. And went to his desk.
In police procedurals this scene is seen all the time, the stop-action entrance of an important character. It’s actually useful in scenes where the observer character is accustomed to taking in everything about other characters in a specific order and manner, like a cop looking over a suspect. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Charlie shoved the papers across the desk went across the room for coffee. He raised the cup to his mouth and sipped. It was hot, blacker than sin, and strong enough to melt the cheap metal spoon as he stirred in more sugar. He stretched slightly, pulling tired muscles across his back and torso, feeling the weapon harness restrict his movements. He was mid-stretch when the woman walked into the room.
She was stunning. Charlie stood straight, sucking in his stomach, and sipped, the scalding coffee hardly noted. Five-ten, blond, she was curvy in all the right places. She moved like she had been dancing on her toes for all her life, graceful and beautiful and … damn. She was heading to his desk. Charlie put his cup down, and walked across the room, back to his cubical, tucking in his shirt which had bunched during the day, pulling his jacket over to hid the mustard stain from lunch.
She looked over his desk, the untidy spill of papers. The coffee stains. And yet she sat in the chair beside it, her red dress fitting around her movements like a man’s hopeful hands had sculpted it onto her.
“Can I help you ma’am?” he asked. She smiled up at him. And damn if she didn’t have blue eyes. The woman should have worn a halo and wings.
Same info, but broken up into the action, making the description a part of the scene instead of cutting the action into two parts.
I’ll do some more info dumps in the last month of the year.
Hope you have a great shopping season!