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Are infodumps necessary??

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Postby Dragonfleet » Thu Jul 06, 2006 8:33 am

Indeed, I have also come to such a conclusion with some minor exceptions. I just wish some published authors like Peter F. Hamilton etc would learn this important lesson. (though I hear he is getting better)
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Postby thegreentick » Sat Jul 15, 2006 10:06 pm

Here's a big thing. If you are going to give information in dialogue, don't make it an infomercial. You know, where that person appears on camera, talks about normal life for a second, and moves onto the spiel about what people need to know. It always comes across as fake.
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Postby aldan » Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:46 am

I concur. Oh, by the way, SPOOOOON!!

Really, the best way that I normally see it done is to do something similar to what the emo girl and her father are doing. First, I will create a situation in which the info would be more easily shared, and understandably so. Second, I will share it conversationally, with much of the info assumed, like with the situation involving what we think is the girl's mother... first we don't know for sure if it IS that lady on the porch that she's nervous about (though it is strongly implied by the girl's reaction), second, we don't know the specific relationship between the characters (again, much is assumed), and third, the information is being handed out, not dumped out.

With story info, if you want the reader's interest, you need to, as was said, treat them as intelligent people who can figure things out with a hint and a nudge. If you do so, then as the reader slowly starts to figure things out, they will get a feeling of success, which will encourage them to continue to progress through the story, because that success is a good feeling, and so they will associate the good feeling with the story, and that will make for a happy reader. It's a trick, I guess you could say, but as an example, if a parent gives their children everything they want, that child/children will not appreciate the things given, normally. However, if the parent makes the child/ren earn the things they want, it will give the kids a feeling of worth and higher self-esteem, since they put forth an effort to earn the reward, and thus the item they now have is worth more to them (and they will treat it better). In the same way, if the story is handed to the reader on an silver platter, then the reader will tend to lose interest in it because they haven't had to 'earn' the story and the rewards for the completion of it (knowing how the story will end).

Because we are social beings, I tend to prefer to make my story progress by way of character interaction, rather than via info dumps, and it also helps to give opportunity to work more with the characters that I've created, which should be a good thing....
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and to appear stupid than
to open it and remove all doubt."
---Mark Twain
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Postby thegreentick » Sun Jul 16, 2006 8:29 pm

Hey aldan, off topic question. Why in the world did you shout SPOOOOON! when I posted? I noticed something about that in the "what music do you listen to while writing?" thread. You said that if anyone sees the tick, just shout SPOOOOON!

Could you tell me what prompted this?
"God is looking for spiritual fruits, not religious nuts."
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Postby berry » Wed Jun 27, 2007 6:12 am

I have been reading over the posts on this subject because I am having a similar problem. I have a story that runs from now far into the future and a character that I follow throughout the years. I was going to have her write memoirs in order to fill in details that don't make sense to have as dialog. Is that just to hackneyed? Is it the type of device that would have you roll your eyes, like having a character look in a mirror so you can describe what they look like?
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Postby aldan » Wed Jun 27, 2007 6:55 pm

I have a few questions for you concerning the way you're handling the story(s) of the world and character you're creating, berry. First, if the story is going to be spread across so many years, is it a case where the character needs to age and gain more experience to be able to understand what's going on more completely, or is it simply a case where, at the beginning, the character is a child in a 'kingdom' (or whatever you're creating) and who has a complete 'adventure' there that will give her a lot of important experience and will introduce the reader to the main storyline in a rather vague sort of way. Second, are you planning to make this one large novel, or do you plan to have it be a series or duology/trilogy/whatever?

The reason I ask those questions is because if the story in the beginning is a 'complete' adventure, you may want to think about creating a single novel out of that story, and then have another novel that would continue the main storyline at a later time. By setting it up that way, you may be able to 'explain' things a bit more without having to actually explain them. How? You can give a bit or two of back-story in a prologue if you wish, or you may also do just as you would in a single novel that starts where the 'second novel' does in this series that covers the main storyline... by simply describing how things are, rather than saying how things have changed. It's tougher to do that in one novel without having to use a lot of 'tricks' to explain the changes, but in a series, all you have to do is mention the previous experience in passing and it'll pretty much be done, IMO.

Basically, I'm suggesting that you think about how many stories that the character will be involved with over the length of the main storyline, and see if you feel that there is one novel there or more than that.
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Postby berry » Thu Jun 28, 2007 3:56 am

Aldan,
The story begin in the here and now and stretches into the future. So the story covers the beginning of the use of animal DNA treatments to the fall of humanity due to a virus that comes about because of the treatments and then the rebuilding of a society that has no pure humans left as human animal hybrids are the only creatures to survive the virus.
My main character has the ability to constantly regenerate due to an infusion of reptile DNA that allowed her limbs to grow back after a car crash. So she becomes the device I use to tell the story because she is basically immortal and can follow the events from beginning to wherever I end the story. So my problem is how to tell the parts that are hard to tell by dialog because everyone is dying or dead. It can't be told though the news or T.V a I have done in some parts of the story.
does that make sense?
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Postby aldan » Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:46 am

Actually, it does. Of course, such novels can be difficult to wrangle (I love that word!) for some authors because they haven't the writing skills needed to hold the readers' interest if there's not much inter-character interaction occurring for a considerable length of time.

I've noticed that many successful authors who write novels containing few major characters tend to often have the character 'speak' to him/herself, mentally or vocally. For an assassin, I'd suggest mental 'voices' rather than physical ones. Perhaps you could even have the character speak with voices in her head of each of the people she's slain, with whom she's previously spoken. That would give the impression of a person who is 'fighting with her conscience' without actually going through the stereotypical "I'm such a bad person" rigamarole.

Perhaps that would give you a way around this difficulty... but I'll keep thinking about it, to see if I can come up with any other suggestions.

Oh, by the bye, when you first mentioned that there was human-animal DNA interchanged, it made me think of Charleton Heston... I wonder why THAT would be?? *aldan grins and mumbles, "Damn dirty apes!"*
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and to appear stupid than
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