Posted by: penpatience | July 1, 2015

BEWARE OF THE INFO DUMP!

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Writers Words: Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. –Louis L’Amour

 

JULY 2015 MONTHLY MUSING

BEWARE OF THE INFO DUMP!

 

Writers may often be guilty of providing readers with too much information too early when developing fiction stories. Sometimes we have a tendency to veer off on tangents loading down the reader in what can be defined as “too much back story” or what I call “the info dump.”

Picture a large waste collection truck backing up to a local landfill. Whump! The collected trash falls from the truck to the ground.  The only difference between haulers and writers is writers dump a word load instead of refuse. Occasionally some writers feel they must explain (tell rather than show) believing readers might not understand where they’re going with a story. The result is we drown them in an early informational avalanche. The attention is directed away from the intended story and  readers may become confused or bored wading through excess details: “the dump.”

A Dump Example:

“John Dunham rang his ex-wife’s doorbell leaving his big, fat thumb on the bell to taunt her. John was a tall six foot, two inches, his light blonde hair hung just long enough to cover his shirt collar, his blue eyes stark in a strong face that could hardly be called handsome. Still he turned female heads since he was eighteen years old including his black haired ex-wife, who no longer wanted him around. They were married for ten years before the marriage took the proverbial dive. Hazel blamed it on his alcoholism and nervous habits at the dinner table when he was drunk.. He loved his two young sons but blamed Hazel for the estrangement. So he had an affair or two, he was a good provider and liked a drink or two now and then with the guys. He worked hard at the battery factory and was entitled to a little extra relaxation once in awhile. Even his older brother, Ron, told him he did nothing wrong and Hazel should chill out and take care of the boys without constant yapping. He’d been at the factory for twelve years now and just earned a promotion. No way would he let Hazel know about the raise. The alimony and child support he had to pay was already too much out of his pocket–Not a dime more would he give that spiteful broad.”

No Dump:

John Dunham rang his ex-wife’s doorbell leaving his big, fat thumb on the bell to taunt her. Hazel opened the front door, her long black hair still damp from her morning shower.

“John, Jr. is ready but Bruce is still filling his backpack. I’ll need them home by ten o’clock tomorrow morning.”

“I can bring them to the game, stop for pizza and bring them back later.”

Hard blue and dark brown eyes locked together in a silent glare.

“I guess that’s Okay,” Hazel said, dropping her eyes. “Just have them back after supper. They still have school work to finish before Monday.”

The boys yelled in unison while running through the front door. “We’re ready Dad. Let’s go!”

Hazel waved goodbye; shut and locked the front door. She leaned her tense body against the door frame not realizing her hands down by her sides had clenched into fists.”

The dialogue shows John and Hazel are divorced,  parents of two sons and no longer live together. The reader can sense the tension between them through the doorbell taunt and clenched fists.  This beginning, minus “the dump” leaves the reader speculating and, hopefully, eager to find out what happens on the next page. At different times within the story, a writer may add  pertinent information from the “dump pile” as it pertains to the story. Yes, I have been guilty of earlier “dumps” but most often I now use notes and journal entries to accumulate characteristics and ideas for main and secondary characters.

Fellow writers: We need to remember when we back up to the writer landfill– BEWARE of the “No Dumping” sign:)

A few of my favorite writing resources:

 

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Responses

  1. Great topic, Frances! Thanks for keeping us on our toes.

    Like

  2. Thank you Carole, We all have a tendency to “dump” once in awhile. I appreciate the feedback. Frances

    Like

  3. A helpful hint for writers. Well done, keep up the god work

    Like


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