This is the current challenge I’m facing with my WIP. I need to explain some backstory, as my protagonist’s character flaw stems from a death in her family that happened way in the past.
I know the first question I should be asking myself is “Is it really necessary information?” It is — without including it, my readers and critiquers are kind of like, “Meh, she’s just dramatic and sad.”
It’s actually a lot harder than I originally thought. I want to show and not tell, but it’s hard to “show” history. Just about every writer will tell you, “NEVER INFO DUMP. EVER!” (Imagine someone saying that you to in the same manner the Mythbusters always give their “never try this at home… EVER!” warning… hehe.)
But in my research, I’m finding that some writers say info dumping might be the only tool in certain situations. And if that’s the case, you’ve got to work to try to make this information matter to the reader now.
Some suggestions I’ve collected from various writer’s blogs on how to accomplish this include:
“The more your information dumps relate directly to a story element currently at play in your narrative, the easier it is to hold an audience’s attention.” – From Lit Reactor
“Add Tension: Make the info dump something that causes problems for the characters.” – From Jami Gold’s Blog
Would anyone else care to offer their opinions, advice, or techniques for getting essential backstory to the reader without the dreaded info dump?