Ghost Coast52,031 words written so far (about 83% complete)
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THE PERILS OF INFO-DUMPING WHEN WRITING

Posted on January 4, 2013

Info-dumping is a common problem with authors. It's the tendency to drop tracts of story explanation in without hinging them on the action or any revelations. It's more tell than show.

Okay, the first week is done and I got five chapters written of my collaborative novel Fractured. I got those chapters done in a record three days. Keith Robinson, the other author in the novel who is telling a parallel story as mine unfolds, was indispensable in the chapters' creation as he pointed out that the first two chapters were big info dumps.

He made such incisive suggestions as what to cut and solid reasons why. We had a discussion by e-mail where he pointed out the info-dumping is a staple of high fantasy, probably why I don't get into that genre as much. I prefer my plots to move with sleek abandon. Thanks to Keith's suggestion, the chapters lost a lot of dead weight and two important details were shuffled to the Tribunal scene.

My fisrt thought when he said I had too much info-dumping was that I needed it as our stories were being told in only about fifteen chapters each (around 20,000 words each). I thought the info-dump was necessary early on to get everything in place. He assured me that less was more, and I quickly revamped the chapters.

I then swore that I would wear my info-dumping hat through the rest of the story so I could avoid a repeat of the sluggish pace of the first two chapters.

The great thing about having another writer looking at your work is that when they show you the error of your ways, you become more circumspect about that area from that point on. Earlier in the year, he made me aware of using the same word too many times too close together in a narrative. Now, I look for that deficiency and remedy it with much more automaticity.

And that's what every author strives for in their work, the automaticity to make the natural, logical changes to the narrative so that it flows and becomes a breathtaking thing of beauty.

Thank goodness I have Keith to take a look at my early stabs at each book. He never once complains about the warts and all that pepper my first drafts. He's such a gentleman that way.

Through our examinations of each other's work, the result is fewer narrative warts. Which is a good thing, because once you reveal those warts to the public, they tend to gawk at such.

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Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on FRIDAY, JANUARY 4, 2013...
Love it! And no, I don't read much fantasy either — at least not high fantasy type with wizards and kingdoms and knights going on long quests to places with unpronounceable names. They usually start with "Thousands of years ago, when..." and that's when I start yawning. But it does seem to be integral to the high fantasy genre. I prefer urban fantasy, where anything goes but the book is written with an eye on being as concise as the next book. You see, when I was a boy......... (yawn)

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