Baby Evil Writers 101: Information Dumps
Imagine yourself in a line at the supermarket. A couple stands in the front the line, and the woman turns around and starts talking.
“I know I've never met you but ever since I was a child, I've hated artichokes, hate them I say. They’re yucky and pointy and actually my boyfriend Steve, loves the nasty green boogers. Not that he’ll be my boyfriend for long because I secretly suspect that besides loving artichokes he is seeing another woman, probably his ex-wife, Nancy-- but that’s just too painful to think about so I’ll just wander around for a while before I dump him. Have all of my ducks on a row so to speak.”
You’d be all WTF? Why is this woman yammering at me with what is obviously a personal problem. You might move your cart and yourself to another line—one without a stranger spilling her guts all over the floor, one where your personal space wasn't invaded with her problems. The woman is all me, me, me
What if instead, you’re standing there, invisible to them?
He puts a bag of artichokes on the conveyor belt.She gives him a dirty look “I don’t know why you’re buying those.”
“Because, I like them.”
She frowns. “Why don’t you go back to Nancy-the-artichoke-eater, you know you want to.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. If I wanted to still be married, I would. There’s a reason she’s my ex-wife.”
Any time you can explain what’s going on with dialogue, you should. The first paragraph is chunky and hard to read. Subconsciously, the reader is put off by large blocks of text. We get all of the information from the clunky paragraph in a few lines of dialogue. There’s plenty of white space and it’s easy to read
Everyone loves to eavesdrop on conversations.
No one likes information poured in a flood.
Look for white space.