Can you info-dump and be interesting?

What’s the hardest part of writing?  That’s actually a very easy question to answer: avoiding info-dumping.

Info-dumping, which I would define as attempting to tell the reader a lot of background info, is a huge no-no for a writer.  It’s the complete opposite of the “Show-don’t-tell” rule.

So, how do you work in all of that background info that your reader just needs to know, without spending five pages dumping it on them all at once?  It seems easy, but I’m beginning to realize that it’s really not.


What brings this up is one of my story.  I am attempting to outline it, and I have realized that the first book is kind of…well, boring.  The first book is an introduction to a secret branch of the military, completely filled with people with the ability to control the elements.  I had originally planned for the first book to take my protagonist from her recruitment into the program, through the training school and into her becoming an official member.  However, while outlining, I am realizing just how boring the book is likely to be.  After all, the only real conflict is the protagonist’s attempt at learning these new skills.  Even in giving her a rival, I feel like there simply isn’t enough conflict, and so not enough excitement.

Realizing this, I am afraid that I don’t really know how to fix it.  I thought about skipping until after her training, starting with her first official mission, but then what happens when I have to fill in all of the information about this group?  By going through the training with her, the reader would be able to learn about the group and how it functions with her, follow her as she learns what her new power is capable of doing.

In the end, I find myself a little lost about how I want to tell this story.  My other thought is to simply invent more conflict in the first book (though I have absolutely no idea what) just to avoid any situation that might force me into an info-dumping situation.


How do you avoid info-dumping?  How do you decide where you need to start your story?  I have never had this problem with any other story, but I am beginning to think that I should be more active in choosing how/where a story starts, and am worried now about the planned beginning for a number of my stories.  How do you solve these problems?


3 thoughts on “Can you info-dump and be interesting?

  1. I’d say you don’t need to include all that background stuff at once. Follow your instinct and kick off with her first mission. Only show (I originally wrote ‘tell’ there!) your readers what they need to know as and when it matters and then keep it brief and to the point. She encounters a problem – how did her trainer teach her to deal with similar problems? Unless she is working alone she will be alongside someone with more experience who will, no doubt, remind her of the training. Maybe they’ll both recall one of the trainers with affection/hatred. Let the reasons come out in conversations and anecdotes they tell each other.

    Liked by 1 person

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