I sometimes have to give up on a book without finishing it. Why? Because I can’t read through a long information dump. It’s just too boring.
If you’re on Goodreads you will know that your friends can recommend books they’ve enjoyed. I usually prefer to choose books on my own, but I weakened and downloaded a book that was recommended to me. I thought the blurb and the plot sounded like it would be the kind of book I enjoy. But no. I never found out if the story was any good or not.
What is an information dump? It’s when an author wants to tell you the back story of the characters. This can be done in a few different ways, but one way is for an ‘omnipresent third person’ (OP3) a.k.a. the author, to tell the story. Another way is to have the characters think back, and the third (and best way in my opinion) is through dialogue.
The problem with the first method is that, apart from the fact that it isn’t the way books are supposed to be written these days, we as readers need to become invested in a character before we care about their back story.
I am not going to mention the title or author of this book because it’s not my intention to discredit anyone, but the author took the reader through four decades of back story of the four women who have played bridge since they were in their twenties. That’s a very large information dump. I hardly knew any of the characters, so it didn’t mean anything to me.
As an author, I have probably been guilty of the same thing in the past, but I most definitely won’t be in the future. In fact, I’m currently working on ‘Fat Girls Rock’ and because it is the 4th in a series, (Redneck P.I. Mystery Series) I have to keep giving information about what has happened in the past. I’m doing so by breaking it up and spreading it out as far as I can and using as much dialogue as possible. It’s not easy, but I think I’m keeping it credible.
Something to think about.
Great post. I get impatient with info dumps too and find myself scanning pages to get back to the meat of the story.
Good to know I'm not the only one!
To me it indicates a poorly written book by a novice or an author who did not have an editorial review.
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