This week, I need to start querying agents about Ashland, maybe reread Ashland, read a couple of books, hang out with friends, submit a short story, and do some laundry.
I’m ahead of schedule in that I submitted the short story and read one of the books (Slade House which I liked, but was not the kind of book I hoped it was and seemed to be all story and no grief, which is a weird thing for a ghost story.)
Also, I was reading through the Goodreads reviews and one reviewer was complaining about the massive infodump in the book. And I realized, I must not fucking understand what an infodump is, in that case, or why it’s the mark of bad writing. Because the one time the bad guys really seemed to come alive for me and to be remotely interesting was when we got their backstory and, in a book set in an alley and a house–where you’re supposed to have that kind of claustrophobia because there’s nowhere else to go–how are you supposed to get the story of the lives of the characters before they got to the house if not for one of the characters telling you?
I’m probably a little sensitive because, if what Mitchell did is infodumping, then 90% of Ashland is infodumping. But I refuse to accept that this is infodumping.
To me, infodumping is when you either dump a lot of useless information on the reader just to prove that you’ve thought through the mechanics of how your world works or when you dump details that ought to unfold naturally in your story. You either don’t trust that the reader trusts you or you don’t trust that the reader can figure things out on her own.
But, if you’re in a situation where a character wants another character to know these things or if you’re in a situation where the character is discovering these things, then you must pass on a lot of information through the telling of it.
It’s just another storytelling strategy.
And now I’ve gotten off track and must get on to the parts of my to-do list that stress me out.