Avoiding Infodumps: Tips on Conveying Information Without Boring Your Readers

A writing tip from Alissa Grosso

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. —Anton Chekhov

Not too long ago I ran into a bit of problem with a novel I was writing. There was a lot of information that needed to be conveyed to both the reader and the main character. The process of overloading a reader with backstory is called infodumping. It’s a case of the fatal writing crime of telling run amuck.

It took more than one rewrite for me to figure out a way to get across all that information without boring readers to tears. Instead of sitting around waiting for people to tell him what was going on, my main character charged off into the world on a quest for answers. It made him a stronger character while also avoiding the dreaded infodump.

If you need to convey a lot of information to your readers, find creative ways to do so. Engage the five senses. Let the discovery of the information become part of the action of the story. When all else fails, couple your infodump with an interesting or intriguing scene, something that screenwriter Blake Snyder refers to as “The Pope in the Pool” in his brilliant book on craft Save the Cat (a book that should be on every writer’s reading list.) Infodumps are boring, but they’re less boring when something else that is funny or intriguing is busy distracting us from the fact that we are getting dumped on.


Alissa Grosso is the author of the novels Popular, Ferocity Summer, and Shallow Pond. She holds a B.A. in English from Rutgers University and has worked as a newspaper editor, a children’s librarian, a book distributor sales rep, and a tavern wench.

Annie is the oldest. The sickly one who gave up on her own life so she could raise her sisters after their parents died. Gracie is the wild child. She wants a man so bad, she’ll do anything it takes to get one. Barbara, the youngest, hates being constantly mistaken for her sisters. She wants nothing more than to finish senior year and get out of Shallow Pond—before she succumbs to her unwanted attraction to the new boy in town, Zach Faraday.

When Annie’s enigmatic illness takes a turn for the worse, Barbara begins to search for the truth of her family’s past. But Shallow Pond offers only lies and deceit. The one thing Barbara can trust is her halting connection to Zach—an unsettling bond that may be the answer to a mystery that doesn’t want to be solved.

Click on the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

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