Meeting Nine – The Infodump
I always seem surprised when karma smacks me in the head. I shouldn’t. Going back to the Sci-fi group, our last meeting provided me with a nice big karmic mirror. One of the authors began his chapter with, what seemed like, several pages of detailed descriptions of a fictional sport the character was about to play. The author presented the reader with a narrative explaining, the number of players, the number of teams, the positions, the ball, the tactics of the game, etc. After that was done, the character played the game for a single paragraph (maybe it was more.) Then the scene switched to a future point in time.
During the reading, I kept thinking all of this information was pointless infodumping. When the character finally got around to the actual game, I was disappointed the action was so brief. The author explained that the point of the scene was only so the character could meet another character. That part of the chapter was a single line and completely forgettable once he moved onto the next scene.
So, when he finished reading, I explained my opinion and suggested that he rewrite the scene entirely as the action of the game. The reader doesn’t need to understand all rules of the sport and most of it could be described sporadically while the action is happening. That would allow him to have increased interaction between the characters and the scene would be more engaging for the reader. The secondary character would also stand out more in the reader’s mind.
The author immediately understood what we were telling him and agreed that he should alter it.
Of course, then I pull out my chapter, which I hadn’t looked at in the past month or so, and discover the first two pages were all one big pile of crappy infodump. Breaking one of my rules, I tell them I’ve made the same mistake and will need to rewrite the scene. I read it along with the chapter that follows.
The first chapter I read contains my Senator character and a narrative of what he’s been doing since the last time. The narrative portion is too long. The scene needs to explain a few items, and I’m planning on rewriting it by bringing his aide into the room so I can turn it into a dialogue between them.
There was a line the group members focused their attention on and liked. Unfortunately, it was meant to be a joke which they didn’t notice. The Senator is thinking about the space habitats that would be built to house cryogenically stored people. Since this fictional world already has colony ships traveling the universe in search of a new planet, he makes a notation to have the engineers design the habitats to be able to fly off to follow a colony if they ever find one.
The group members felt it was a great idea for the Senator to be thinking of alternate plans that far in advance. Since having the people refit the habitats several thousand years after the destruction of society would be impossible, it was a reasonable concept for him to be thinking. I meant it to be a mocking point that a Senator, sitting in his comfortable office, having no knowledge of engineering, just idly decides to add a design change that would add billions onto the cost of the project. Anyone ever have a boss like that? So… Back to the drawing board. I’ll need to rewrite it in a manner that makes it funnier or more obvious.
The next chapter I read is back to our refugee family. I won’t get into the details. It was designed to show the hereditary disease the character is living with, the prejudice the world has against the refugees, and the character’s not always rational mindset.
From the comments the group made after the reading, I get the impression, I maybe writing some aspects too subtly. I also think I need to change the disease to something fictional. At the time I was writing these beginning chapters, I didn’t have a clear idea of all the aspects of the disease and ended up including items I didn’t foresee. Since I eventually added a psychiatric component to the disease, which is fictional, the disease name needs to change also.
So that’s the end of this week’s rant. I did have a repeat of my online meeting. That went very well again, and I’ll probably make my next post about that group.