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Question
I read alot about doling out information, like backstory, character history, etc, throughout the story, instead of in "info dumps." My question is how do you dole out the information a little at a time? How do you know if you are "info dumping?"

Thanks for your help.

Christopher  

Answer
Christopher:

Generally speaking, you present information at the time the reader needs to know it.  It doesn't make any sense to tell the reader about the protagonist's first girlfriend on page two if she doesn't make an appearance until page 100, for example.  So wait until the information is of use to the reader before giving it to them.  Otherwise, they may forget, too.

Info dumping is easily spotted.  If the presentation of information causes the story to slow down, then it's a "dump."  If you do need to present more than a sentence or so of information, you need to pick a spot where it'll do the least damage, pace-wise, to your story.  Between scenes, in the form of exposition, is probably a safe bed.  But again... try to avoid such dumping whenever possible.  

Hope that's helpful!  

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Vincent M. Wales

Expertise

I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.

Experience

For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

Education/Credentials
BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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