NaNo Update – it gets worse

Infodumps. Argh.

Sad thing is, sometimes infodumps in a story have to happen. Sometimes there’s just information a particular character – and the reader – has to have to fully understand the magnitude of that giant space rock about to drop on everyone’s heads.

But they can be annoying. And obvious. And too much like a class lecture – and who reads a class lecture for fun?

…Well, I’m sure someone out there does. But if people wanted a class, they’d probably go sign up for one. They picked up a book, which means they want a story.

Still, no matter how many drawbacks they have, infodumps in a rough draft can be critical for the writer.

Because there’s always. Always. Some little fillip of your world/monster/magic system that you didn’t figure out before you started. And sometimes the only way to figure it out is to write it out on the page.

So. Infodumps in a rough draft? Yes, put them in there. This is NaNo; write everything, no matter how clunky, as fast as you can! The time to edit will be later.

Later, though – then we all get to see what we can cut, what has to stay in for things to make sense, and what can be repurposed and scattered in later (or earlier!) bits of the story. So that our characters aren’t launching into a long and academic diatribe on How Do You Kill X Demon in the middle of a chase scene.

…Unless you have a TARDIS and are playing with the space-time continuum anyway. In which case, I salute you, better you than me. Time travel gives me such a headache.

(Or so my future self supposedly says. Is Future-Me always so scary?)


17 thoughts on “NaNo Update – it gets worse

  1. *nods*

    Sometimes, after a first draft, you figure out how to break up that infodump into smaller chunks that you can then sprinkle in at the right moments.

    Or you still have to do one infodump on this particular piece of information but you figured out how to condense it better. Through you still might need to hang a lampshade to get to work.

    Time travel gives me such a headache.


    Never let them try to explain it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is possible to write info dumps that aren’t objectionable (to some people’s taste). One of my favorite parts of LOTR is the Council of Elrond, which is one long infodump. So, for that matter, is the second chapter of the book, wherein we hear about the Ring & Gollum and all for the first time. I’m probably weird, but also an existence proof that it is possible to enjoy a properly written infodump. Now figuring out how to create one…. well, that’s another question. Of LOTR’s that I just mentioned, one was extended dialogue, one was narrative summary. And I also appreciate the inclue technique of dribbling stuff out where it can fit more or less naturally. Basically, if the writer somehow keeps a sense of story-movement going, I think it works for me, however it is handled.

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      1. I’m probably the odd man out here when it comes to this particular subject – I /like/ world building, and have a bad habit of reading RPG setting books for /fun/ – but I know at least one writer I enjoy corroborated my opinion that Butcher does an excellent job with his info dumps in Dresden Files.

        Most of those get away with it because of how Harry explains things – how everything is in his voice and feels less like random dialogue in the middle of action then someone *cough*Harry*cough* telling the story to you in person later and realising that they need to explain this for what’s next to make sense.

        O’ course, all info dumps are basically that anyways. I guess it’s just the sheer level of conversational that the narrative feels like.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m probably the odd man out here when it comes to this particular subject – I /like/ world building, and have a bad habit of reading RPG setting books for /fun/

        I like world-building.

        Never read an RPG setting book but that has more to do with the fact that I don’t own any. Provided the writing isn’t legal brief dull, I probably would read them for fun.

        I’m pretty tolerate of how an author chooses to impart exposition . . . so long as no one does that “As you know, Bob” thing . . .

        Unless it is Harry Dresden being a wiseass to Bob the Skull πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 2 people

      3. The right sort of technical details in fiction can push one of my buttons. See the engineering in Doc Smith’s Space Opera.

        But it is easy to chase after that, and screw it up to the point of turning me off. I read a sort of Clancy fan fic where the writer was seemingly mentioning weapons statistics just because.

        Technical details have meaning. It can be very obvious that someone does not speak the language fluently, and is putting stuff in because other people do, not because the plot and action need it.

        I’ll read anything so long as it isn’t boring and doesn’t waste my analytical time.


      4. Oh, yes, you’re definitely not the only one, sightlessraiton. I had a pile of RPG sourcebooks before I moved; I still have some in PDF form – and I think that in my entire life, I played one two-hour RPG. Period. Full stop.

        For worldbuilding help and all those little fun things – they’re shiny!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Heinlein. There’s a reason to call the subtle insertion of gobs of setting detail heinleining. The first one I read where I knew to look was, IIRC, Tunnel in the Sky.

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  3. The thing about NaNo is, for the mon of November alone, you have to train yourself out of what I call ‘edit brain.’ It’s similar to zombie brain, but with added lethality. Whilst in edit brain mode, you are, usually, procrastinating writing more (either that or you’re done) because these days most are trained to edit and revise as they go, so everything flows nicely and nothing contradicts anything else.

    …During NaNo, edit brain can be a really, *really* bad devil to have upon your shoulder. It makes you second guess *everything*. Just yesterday I broke my own rule of ‘no revision, cut down your padded word vomit into shape in December’ and nearly broke down crying, because I’d written a scene – a very integral scene – in a place where it wouldn’t make any sense to go, because I’d somehow managed to fudge up my own timeline.

    (Basically, character went to sleep a year earlier to recover from an ordeal. While asleep, people’s memories of said character were taken away. Once he woke up, they returned…but this scene, with a pivotal character and many plot points, took place after his awakening with her still not having any memories of him. *face palm*)

    And usually, this would be fine – except, caught in NaNo brain, my thoughts race ahead a mile a minute a plot points fly by, and my ability to piece things already written together cohesively and concisely just *boom* So I tried to rearrange previous scenes to fit the out of place scene in somewhere – but no such luck. It literally doesn’t fit into the narrative structure anywhere else.

    At this point, two hours had passed since I discovered this grievous oversight, and I was just *screaming into the abyss* Two hours of writing time, passed because I’d somehow shifted gears into edit brain but gotten jammed somewhere between there and NaNo brain. So yes, I get what you’re saying and you’re right – word vomit and pad and write whatever and anything else during NaNo, and cry tears of exhaustion and hopelessness later, during the months that are actually for revision.

    Liked by 2 people

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