Threading the Infodump

The world of my NaNo novel is our own world, seven minutes into the future. Same world, only more so, and convulsing under population pressures, climate change, and out-of-control crime. It’s the background for the penal system that’s the center of the novel, and if it isn’t explained, the system doesn’t make any sense. Enter the novelist’s nightmare, the infodump.

Maybe it’s because I just finished reading a novel with a massive infodump that sidelined the story for far too long, that I’m uncomfortably aware of the danger that awaits me. When is enough information too much? How to avoid characters sitting around and coughing up great gobs of pedantry? “Yes, Charles, but surely you know that…,” for a page and a half.

So, I’m working at threading the info through the story, working the most necessary basics in as close to the beginning as possible. Sharing it out among the characters with a little bit of flashback, a snippet of conversation, a dollop of internal musing, a quick explanation for an action.

In the last day or so, I’ve become overwhelmingly thankful for Scrivener’s outliner. I can insert individually named and color-coded information anywhere in the outline. One color for scenes. Another for descriptions. Another for time markers. And now another for information. Life is good.

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