I was almost overcome with pride, because a) it really was a terrible and, for the most part, unnecessary info dump, and b) the DH recognized it as such, which proved that he actually DOES pay attention to some of the things I say!
Info dumps are one of my pet peeves. To me, nothing marks a beginning writer faster than a pile of information just sitting there, usually at the beginning of a story, doing nothing.
Sometimes info dumps are some interesting bits of research the writer uncovered and just can't wait to tell it to the reader.
No matter how interesting the research is, I (the reader) want to read about THE STORY first and foremost.
If the writer absolutely must impart this information (and sometimes it is germane to the story and the reader really DOES need to know) then please weave it into the dialogue or show it through the point-of-view character's thoughts or actions. Please don't toss it into the middle of the scene like a point in an academic lecture that somehow wandered into a novel.
I had to practice what I preach while writing The Wild Sight. I stumbled across an absolutely fascinating piece of scientific information called the Niall Marker during my research and I knew I just had to include it in my story. In fact this interesting tidbit on genetics became an important turning point in my story. But I couldn't just dump the info out there, so I stuck it into dialogue instead.
Rylie could feel her hopes plummeting as Brenna McRory spoke. "How long does that take?"
"Oh, only a day or two," the older woman reassured. "I've all my equipment set up and I was preparing a batch of specimens for my own research project. I've isolated a specific genetic marker and tied it back to the Irish High King, Niall of the Nine Hostages."
"He was the original forefather of the O'Neill clan," the professor interrupted his wife. "And quite a prolific old carouser." He cast a sly glance at Donovan. "I'd say our Donovan would be a good subject to include in your study, Brenna. With his dark hair and blue eyes, he appears to be the only true Celt amongst us. I don't have the marker myself." He brushed at his sandy brown hair and added, "Too much Viking blood."
"I don't mind being part of your study," Rylie quickly volunteered. "Even though I know I'm half Polish."
"A most kind offer," said McRory's wife. "But I'm afraid this marker is gender specific, only found on the male chromosome."
I like to think that was much more interesting than merely sticking in the facts:
The Niall Marker is a gender-specific genetic trait that has been traced back to fifth century High King of Ireland, Niall of the Nine Hostages. Research studies indicate that as many as fifteen percent of the men in Ireland carry this trait.
And I was able to show (not tell) a bit about the characters too.
I'm also not the only one who has a 'thing' against stinking up prose with info dumps. Mary Buckham recently passed along in her newsletter an article from Writer's Digest about what agents and editors hate to see in Chapter 1. Miriam Hees, an editor from Blooming Tree Press said, "I hate seeing a 'run-down list:' Names, hair color, eye color, height, even weight sometimes."
Or as my DH would say, "What an info dump!"
Have you experienced any info dumps in books or movies lately? Care to share with Aunty? Pretty Please?