• BP Gregory

The Infodump Confession


A lot of readers loathe infodumps with a fiery mouth-foaming passion unto death. Large amounts of exposition that aren't seamlessly integrated into the text so subtly that you don't even realise you're learning can often be signs of poor, undisciplined, even lazy writing. And don't they let you know about it. So here's my confession of the day.

I quite like infodumps.

I never really thought about it before, until I started looking up reviews on a book I read recently and found some particularly cruel dissections. And I thought to myself, a bit bewildered: the amount of extra info provided on the world was one of the things I really enjoyed! This particular author (who I won't mention here) displayed a lot of research and attention to detail, which is usually applauded in sci-fi, and I enjoyed hearing about the social pressures that resulted in this protocol or that piece of equipment. To be fair I almost always want to know more, in real life as much as reading - it's why I love MONA in Tasmania so much. The technology there allows you to drill down through the information associated with each piece of art to a depth that almost feels fractal. YES I want to know what the artist was thinking, and their life situation; I also want to know what the purchaser thought, and what their curator thought, and what the applicable cultural setting at creation was and how that differs to today; there's even a section for what other visitors to MONA thought of the piece. Every time I have visited I've run the battery on the little handheld device down to a nub and been unable to read up on the last few exhibits near the exit which sucks because that always includes Delvoye's Cloaca Professional 2010. Revelation has made me re-visit criticisms of infodumping in my own novels: having previously thought huh, ok, maybe I shouldn't do that, I'm now moving more toward: no, it's something I enjoy when I read. Perhaps what I ought to concentrate on, instead of eliminating it, is refining and developing my technique so it becomes more enjoyable to others as well. After all, I can only write the sorts of things I like.

Tvtropes.org have a pretty nice explanation of an "infodump" if you haven't encountered this term before: Tvtropes on infodump


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