Hi Jim,

HELP!!!

… please! 🙂 I am so frustrated, I’m not sure what to do. I am trying hard to write my book. I’ve got a lot of great ideas, but I keep getting held up on when we meet new characters. Each time one of my main cast makes their first appearance in the story, I wind up with five or six paragraphs of details about the characters. I hate reading stories that just pile on the detail, but that’s what I’m doing. How can I stop this?

Thanks,
Lane


Hi Lane,

I know the feeling. It’s tough to get through books that just drag the detail out to absurd levels. We don’t need to know what each individual stone on the wall of the castle looks like, we can picture it on our own.

Okay, the first thing I would do is CALM DOWN! You emailed me in all caps. Do you know how many internet etiquette rules you’re breaking by doing that? ONE! Do not type in all caps!  I get you’re frustrated, but trust me, you’ll work through it.

All right, are you calm? Good. Now, when typing out person/place/thing descriptors, ask yourself a few questions; Does the reader need to know about this? Is this something that will become relevant to the plot later? Believe it or not, we don’t need to know the thread count of the clothing their wearing.

All joking aside… I think the best way you can break up ram-eating walls of text is to actually turn them into dialogue and omit what isn’t necessary. Let me give you an example:

Then he saw her. Her hair was a lustrous blonde that shimmered in the sunlight. It flowed to the small of her back and tapered off just above her behind.

Take something like that and edit it down to something a little more simple and use it in dialogue:

Toby turned to Mike, “Who is that girl?”

“Which one?”

Toby beckoned to a tall girl coming towards them, “That one with long blonde hair.”


Which example is easier to read? IMHO it’s the second one. It’s broken up and while obviously longer, it’s more engaging and isn’t a huge wall of text. That’s really the best advice I can give you. Slim down what you don’t need to say and have your characters actually talk about it instead of just telling the readers.

What do the other writers on my page think? How do you avoid huge walls of text?

Thanks,
Jim



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

2 Comments on “Dumping the Info Dump on New Characters #Writing #Author #Advice

  1. Consider a story bible approach. Apart from the actual story write up the character’s bio, then decided what elements are important to the story at that time, then just use that. The rest of is may impact how you write the character but if we don’t need to know it, don’t write it. One of my problems with the first Op Center book is that it stops the story to give histories of the characters that might be interesting for the later series, but more often than not stalled the story for useless information. We don’t need the examples unless it matters to the story at that time.

    Not to be contrary but one story bugged me because they didn’t write anything about the character, even a base physical description, until way into the story. So not enough is also a problem, though obviously not the questioner’s problem. It’s a question of what does the reader need to know when.

    Like

  2. We assume human, so maybe just mention what stands out.

    For example, She had shocking red hair. She looked like her head was on fire. Or, he had that awkward body-builder look, like he lifted weights all day, everyday. Or, he looked very ordinary, except his left eye twitched now and then. (Main character) wondered what that was about.

    Readers can decide what they think is ordinary. Meanwhile, the readers can find out about the twitch the same time as the main character–the same way people normally find out the details about others.

    If there is something important to the storyline, of course mention it at the right time, and that is usually early on, but otherwise, I would just let people find out about people the way people normally find out about people… Not a good sentence, but you get the idea.

    Just a suggestion.

    Like

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