How Infodumping Can Kill Your Novel

Infodumping is the number one cause of readers skimming a story. It causes the story to drone on and on, explaining everything and leaving nothing to the imagination. It tells the readers things they already know, either from the story or common knowledge. And bores the readers by repeating information and not allowing them to connect to the story or the characters.

How Much Backstory is Too Much?

Too much backstory can bring a story’s pace to a standstill, bogging it down in insignificant details of a character’s past, world-building elements, or history of the current conflict. It supplies information outside the scope of the story the reader does not need to know and often leaves little to the imagination. It steals all secrets and surprises, leaving the reader to drown in boredom because they already know everything ahead of time. But that doesn’t mean all backstory is bad.

How Do We Know When to Show vs Tell?

A well-told story is a combination of showing and telling. As readers, we want to experience the story through the main character’s eyes, but we don’t want to get bogged down in details we don’t care about. After all, it’s much easier to skim through to find the more interesting bits. But we also don’t want to be told why something is happening. We want to see it happen. Showing and telling both have their place in a story. So, how do we know which to use?

Keep Your Dialogue Interesting Without Overwhelming the Reader

When there are multiple characters in a scene, it can be difficult to keep track of who’s doing the talking. It’s so much easier when we’re writing dialogue for only two people. All we have to do is let them take turns and, in longer sections of dialogue, occasionally insert a speech tag or bit of action to keep it clear who’s talking. But once we start adding more characters in, it soon becomes confusing without dialogue tags to keep readers from getting lost. This may work as a quick fix but isn’t always the best solution.