No Tuesday guest blogger this week so thought I’d address a topic that’s been on my mind for several months.
While I haven’t done as much reading over the summer as I’d hoped, I have read the beginning of many stories and chosen to pass on them.
They might have been great stories but they all had one thing in common, the fatal information dump.
I say fatal because if you submit a manuscript with information dumping, it’s coming back to you with the sorry not for us rejection letter.
So, you might ask, how did these books get published, how did an editor let these slip through the net?
I did some checking and all of the books were self published.
About 80 percent of them started off great with both a character and plot that drew me in but then on page two or three, the authors decided to give the whole backstory about the character. And not just a brief backstory, but one that went on for pages.
It’s not only jarring but it’s bit like starting a journey, all is going well and suddenly the car breaks down or there’s a roadblock and you have to sit in traffic for hours.
I gave up on these stories and couldn’t read on because the writer had interrupted that pull you in factor that’s vital to every great story.
These authors might have had the stories rejected, didn’t know why, and then decided to self publish. Maybe they had them edited by someone who let this fatal flaw go, maybe they didn’t hire an editor.
I always tell my students this about information dumping and hope that it gives them an idea of how a reader experiences it.
Think of one of your best friends. Did you know everything about them on your first meeting? Probably not and one of the joys of getting to know people is slowly finding out about them.
Would you want to make friends with someone who tells you their life story from birth to present day, where they were born, where they went to college, the guy that dumped them, the woman who took all their money in a bitter divorce, the numerous operations they’ve had, during your initial interaction with them? I have met people who do this and if you have too, I’m guessing like me, you used an excuse to exit ASAP.
Or even think of a story as a four course gourmet meal. Would you prefer to spend time enjoying the soup before the salad was brought to your table? Time to enjoy the main course before the waiter puts the dessert in front of you?
Information dumping is just like having all four courses placed at the table in one shot. It’s also like meeting the I’m going to bore you by telling you my whole life story person at the party.
Feed the information to your reader slowly. Maybe it’s chapter ten before they learn that your hero has a fear of heights or that they lost a parent when they were a baby. Isn’t that more entertaining then learning about those two things on the first few pages?
Self publishers out there, check for information dumping before you upload your book, and aspiring authors, check your manuscript before you hit the send button.
If you can’t figure out why your story keeps getting rejected or readers aren’t loving your self published book as much as you’d hoped, information dumping might be to blame.