13 July 2013

The Dangers if Infodump

When I was in my college years, I loved epic fantasy. I also loved Tom Clancy novels. Pretty much anything under 300 pages was a short story, and I would have nothing to do with them.

I can’t believe I had “extra” time in college. Where is it now???

Anyway, at one point in my life I loved the big, thick, intricately plotted books that I now realize take years and years to write.  And way back when, I didn't mind the info dump.

Now I’m older and far less patient.  When too much information is thrust at me, instead of embracing it and soaking it in, I glean the top layer off and cast the rest off like yesterday’s socks.

Not that I usually mistakenly put on old socks…

I’ve mentioned a few times that I recently returned from a trip to Israel.  Well, when you go there, your tour group will be assigned an Israeli guide. I think it’s a law or something.  Ours was named Bassam, we called him Sam for short.  After all, uncultured American’s can’t possibly be asked to remember a guy’s name that’s different.

No, no, not a name. However, he gave us so much information that I’m pretty sure I’ve ejected more than 80% of it out the port on the back of my head.  One name (Bassam) I could totally handle.  But the 117 names for cities, people, regions, bodies of water, religions beliefs, rulers and a bunch of other things was WAY too much.

Granted, they did tell us to read some book before we went, which was a comprehensive (and quite dull) guide to the places we went to visit. If I had prepared maybe I wouldn’t have gotten so lost.

And it’s really easy to Google most of these places and get the  information that I’ve most certainly mixed up in my head. 

King Herod built the Dead Sea in the mountain region near the brother of Jordan and lived there until his college buddy Tiberius ruled the world from the  Mount of Olives and they had a party under the Dome of the Rock.

You see! That’s how my brain feels when someone does a huge info dump at the beginning of a book. It’s especially bad if all the names are similar. Herod, Heronian, Hades, Helvitica…you see. I’m already confusing myself.

I realize that most people who read big, fat books expect big, fat info dumps, but if you can incorporate it into the story in a sneaky but helpful manner, then do it. Please. For those of us with simple minds.

Besides, the story of Herod and Tiberius as college buddies is probably a pretty good story. (If they even lived at the same time. My brain is seriously overloaded.)

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