Saturday, May 5, 2012


I read a lot of unpublished manuscripts. It's something I began doing so other writers would read my in-progress works in return. Over the years, I've grown to love reading stories that aren't available to the general public, some of them quite brilliant, and to give my opinions about how to make the pieces stronger or more accessible. I've learned a lot about my craft this way, as well as from other writers' opinions about my work. I've found some very talented friends in the process.

I've also found a lot of writers who seem to have a literal phobia of the dreaded INFO DUMP. Dun da daaa. It's late, I'm thinking in musical terms as my mind heads toward dreams. I'm getting off track... Okay, right. So these info dump phobes often write about something unique to their story, something that  exists nowhere else in the known universe except their imagined tale, which I applaud very loudly and enthusiastically. The problem arises when they are so afraid to create an info dump that they fail to describe these oddities at all. They mention them, but don't explain what they are. It leaves readers lost.

I'm not endorsing info dumping by any means. It's a writer's job to find creative ways to relay information without resorting to clunky paragraphs that read like dull lists, but, especially in certain cases, the information has to be in there somewhere.  One excellent way to get information across is dialogue. Throw in a character who's as unfamiliar with the oddity as readers and have it explained to him. Or describe how it works through action. Show it at work. And, honestly, sometimes a brief paragraph that simply explains what the thing is works best  and is least intrusive.

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