Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Not Just Info Dumps

I decided to go back and review the first three chapters of the second draft of the novel-in-progress, and had yet another revelation about beginnings, specifically: It's not just the tendency to dump information and backstory that's a problem. I tend to tell too much about the main characters' emotions, rather than showing them.

I suspect that's because I want my readers to know and like my characters as much as I do right from the start. It's especially tempting to tell more about what they're feeling when they're acting in a contrary way. For instance, if I've got an aloof hero, I want the reader to understand, in no uncertain terms, that he's just hiding behind that mask. He's really a nice guy -- you can tell by his thoughts, which I will now share with you in great detail.

Unfortunately, this has the same infect as the dreaded info dump -- it slows the pace. And that can have the opposite effect to my intention, which is to interest the reader in my characters.

So the bad news is, I've still got some revising to do. The good news is, I'm now aware of this tendency, so I can fix it. Because the last thing I want is for my reader to feel as if they're stuck next to a stranger at a party who's regaling them with their latest woes, in great and excruciating detail.

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