Brian W. Smith’s Weekly Writing Tip for Authors
Avoid info dumps. What’s an info dump? I’m glad you asked. Here is an example of an info dump:
John Thomas entered the room and made all the women stop and stare. He stood six foot five inches tall, wore a thick beard, and bald head. His dark skin glistened when the overhead lights shined on his face. The tailored blue suit he wore could barely contain his muscular frame. His feet, his walk, his watch, yada yada yada...you get the picture.
Nothing screams “amateur” faster than doing paragraph long info dumps on each character the moment the character is introduced. Instead of immediately TELLING the reader how the character looks, sprinkle your character’s description throughout the chapter. Also, use adjectives in narration and descriptive dialogue to help the reader visualize the character:
John ducked to enter the tiny office. The normal buzz in the room came to a screeching halt once his new coworkers peeled their eyes from their computer screens and looked up at the mountain of a man.
***I didn’t say he was 6’5” tall, but I IMPLIED he was tall by describing his need to duck upon entry and his coworkers looking up at the “mountain” of a man (I used “mountain” as an adjective to describe his size)***
Lisa Jones, the Department gossip, tapped on her cubicle wall to get Angela’s attention.
“What now Lisa?” Angela asked.
“Check out the chocolate God who just came through the door.”
Angela glanced at John. “He’s okay. I like bald heads, but I don’t do buffed men. The buttons on that suit are screaming.”
“Girl you’re crazy. That man is fine. And that beard...oh my god.”
“Not crazy about beards,” Angela said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “Overrated. There’ll be a new fad in style this time next year.”
“Whatever. I know you like him.”
“No I don’t.”
“We’ll see how long you can hold out. Looks like he’s coming this way. You’ve got a new next door neighbor.”
“Are you serious?” Angela’s tone bordered on panic.
Lisa chuckled and grunted, “Umm hmm.”
***By using dialogue I was able to let the reader know that John is handsome, dark complexion, muscular, bald head, has a beard, and I even planted the seed for a love connection.**
Remember, you DON’T have to describe every detail of your character upon introduction. And please, please, please, stop saying which celebrity your character looks like - AMATEURISH. If you paint a vivid enough picture (SHOW) the reader will be able to use his/her imagination without you having to TELL them the celebrity your character resembles.