The last thing a mystery writer wants to do is slow down or stop the action in a story for an “information dump” that is meant to provide details the author thinks the reader should know. Remember, readers don’t need to know everything the author knows. Here are some ways to avoid information dumping and at the same time provide essential information to your readers:
1. Tell readers only what they need to know at any given moment in a book.
2. Do not begin dialog with “As you know..” and then go into a long dissertation about something the character already knows. This is a thinly veiled information dump.
3. Drop small hints that will allow readers to discover information for themselves.
4. Convey information through flashbacks or internal monologues that are triggered by something that is happening in a scene.
5. Scatter bits of information throughout the story. This will encourage the reader to keep reading to find out more.
6. Reveal information indirectly during the course of the story. “John removed his wedding ring then joined the blonde at the bar.” Translation: John is married but is neither faithful to his wife nor honest with his girlfriend.
In a mystery novel, conflict and action reign. Never sacrifice either for an “information dump.”
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