There are many post/pages out there and warn against the dangers of showing vs telling. I’ve read many of them and the information basically stays the same with variation on how it is told. Although the information is stored in the back of my mind, I continue to click on those articles to see if there is anything new that I should know. Even if I don’t learn anything new, it’s refreshing to know that my knowledge is being reassured.
When writing, I always want to be an active writer (more on that in a later post). In that regard, I like to pay attention to what I’m writing and making sure that I don’t summarize information or info dump in a paragraph. These examples I regard as telling. Instead, I try to sprinkle the information through the story.
I happened to look back on my project and I completely failed my knowledge. I read through the opening paragraphs and I cringed. I had info dumps and trying to tell the reader about the world. While I do confess that I started writing this story three years ago, I never really went back to look at the beginning until recently. It just amazed me how different my writing had gotten from then until now. I knew it happened but everything time I take a look at old writing, it hits me in the face.
So, here’s a few tips on how to avoid info dumps.
First, I like to make a rough outline of my chapters. It’s like writing a synopsis with the only exception that you won’t show it to anyone. This sounds tedious and repetitive but I have found it to be really useful. With that outline, you can decide where you want to put those world building sentences and other sentences that deal with your character and their life up to that point. Not only do you dictate where that information goes but you have a clearer view of where everything goes.
Second, I ask someone to read over my work. It’s nice to have an extra pair of eyes for anything. I’m sure if you have info dumps and the information slows down the reading then, someone is bound to tell you. You could always read it yourself when you take a few days off and reread your work. That way, you don’t have the story in you head and you can read like a reader.
Third, practice. You don’t win a marathon when you practice for only one day. You don’t send your manuscript out to agents on the first draft. Everything takes practice and so does writing. I don’t believe you can get really good at writing without failing a few times. If you make yourself become super sensitive over avoiding info dumps then it starts to become second nature to you and your writing is better off because of it.
Lastly, read. Reading is very essential to your writing. Without reading, you can’t soak up all the techniques other writers are able to pull off. Did I mention that their published authors? Yes, they are. So, bottom line read. Get to see what works and why it works and see if you can’t incorporate some of the same techniques into your own work.
What if you have any info dumps in your writing? Next week, I’ll be making a post on how to fix info dumps. Until then.