Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: Information Dumping & Clearing Out Office Space

Happy New Year! Today is IWSG day, a monthly event author Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. Today's IWSG question is: What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?  One writing rule I don't care much for is the one that warns writers not to information dump. I find that information dumping in earlier drafts of a story can help me better flesh out a story in my head. Besides, excess details can always be trimmed in future drafts. I also find that an author can get away with some level of information dumping in a novel AS LONG AS they can still hold my attention. Lately, I've been reading some YA fiction by an author who information dumps quite a lot and it doesn't bother me at all because she's such an excellent storyteller. 

Now for my insecurity...at the dawn of 2017, what I really want to do is to continue on with a long-term project I’ve been working on (besides my novel) and that is to clear out some space in my office. This has been a challenge for me and I wonder if I'll ever have a truly neat desk or office. Stuff that take up a lot of space in my office are my books, articles, and research materials. On my shelves, I keep many books I’ve read, books I haven’t read yet, and books I’ve received as gifts. (It's no secret among those who know me well that I love books!)  I also hold onto a number of articles and clippings that inspire me in some way whenever I look at them. And on top of that, I keep folders full of stuff related to research and "homework" for my various projects. It's hard for me to decide what to let go of! 

How do you minimize the clutter among the items in your reading and writing life? 

What are your thoughts about information dumping in writing?

18 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I like short bursts of info dumping when necessary, especially in a series where I might have to be reminded of details I forgot with book 1.

I like to get rid of unnecessary things, so I tend to toss out books, articles, etc that I don't need. I figure I can find much of it on the Internet for free or get a book out of the library if I want to read it again. Good luck with your goal.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I clean out my office once in awhile. I usually wait until it really starts to bother me. Some clutter is fine, but when it hits that tipping point, I need to do something.

Crystal Collier said...

See, I feel it isn't dumping if there's balance with a plot. Honestly, how can there be balance if there's a couple pages of dumping before anything happens? A paragraph or two intermixed with action, followed by another paragraph or two? That totally works--but then it's not a dump. It's more like a dollop.

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm on an itty bitty, teeny desk in the corner of the living room so I have not room to keep anything. That makes it easy to decide what to let go of. Everything. That said, I dream of having a real desk and maybe an office/library to write it. Sigh. A room that doesn't have a TV and a whole family living in it. Someday....

Tamara Narayan said...

I'm with you on the info dumps. If it's done well, I don't mind a bit. But in my critique group, people would pounce on my pages if I did it myself. So maybe I need to be more entertaining? Perhaps.

My desk is in need of an overhaul. There is so much junk surrounding it.

Pat Hatt said...

Sounds like you use a lot of those things though. My ocd just says chuck it and I listen lol if you haven't used something in a year, you probably never will, is a good way to think about it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Info dumps do help in the early stages when you're trying to figure out what's going on with a story.
All the loose papers - scan them into your computer and store them in files there.

Mandy 'n' Justin said...

I agree that information dumps during the first draft are kind of necessary. Besides, when clearing up cluttery papers, I often tend to cut so much out of my first draft. I think when you first sit down to write though, you just need to get it all out and not overthink anything.

Jo said...

I was going to suggest the same as Alex. Scan all the loose papers and store them in the computer. Make sure you have a reliable backup system though.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

My decluttering was aided by two things: getting more honest about what I was ever going to use or reread; and becoming more willing to let go, less attached to things.
But I am still very attached to books. I keep many many of them, but then, I do reread them.

Claire Annette said...

I'm organizing a bullet journal with a writing section that where I can dump info onto a page (or pages). My office is way too cluttered and I'm hoping to stop having post it notes stuck up all over.
Happy New Year - Happy Writing!

Rhonda Gilmour said...

Once we've heard of this or that writing "rule," we writers tend to notice whenever we see it broken. Such is the case with info dumps. If they're interesting glimpses into the characters' past, most readers would probably never notice or mind--because they haven't been taught that info dumps are bad. On the other hand, if the narrative comes to a screeching halt for an info dump, or an inner soliloquy, or a long blob of poetic description, that may leave a nasty taste in the reader's mouth, and the book may end up on the discard pile. How's your discard pile coming? I weed through my office once or twice per year, donating books I won't read again--and then friends/family send me more books. I wish you happy, productive writing in 2017.

Liz A. said...

Some info is necessary, but I've seen some info dumps that make a story screech to halt. Although, you are right, it is a good thing to do in early drafts. Then you can figure out how to pepper that info into the story in later drafts.

Funny you should mention decluttering. Just today I got out all my various pages of knitting patterns and started organizing. I threw out a stack of notes. And now I'm wondering how much stuff I should really keep. I mean, if I can find that information online (or if I have it saved on a flash drive somewhere) do I really need to keep the hard copy?

I wonder how many articles you could condense that way. Then you wouldn't need the hard copies.

The Silver Fox said...

I've always thought that the best approach was to learn as many rules as possible... and then decide which one(s) you want to break.

Suzanne Furness said...

Most writing 'rules' I find have exceptions to them and giving information is sometimes very necessary to the story. The New Year is a good time to de-clutter isn't it? Some good ideas here about scanning some documents you want to keep. I love books too . . . I guess most writers do!
Happy New Year.

Elizabeth said...

I think a little bit of info dumping isn't bad as long as it is handled well. My room (I wish I had an office) is a continuous organizing project. I buy new organizers, I move things around, and the clutter keeps stacking up. I usually end up bringing my laptop to the living room because there is more space there than at my desk.

Cherie Colyer said...

To reduce clutter, I started to keep most my research on my computer. I create folders for each book I'm working on. I also have a few private Pinterest boards where I can pin articles or images important to my WIP.

As far as info dumps, I'm not a fan. I prefer information to be woven into the story and not to have pages of backstory.

Lynda R Young said...

I'm not very good at keeping my desk neat. Occasionally I'll tidy it up but it gets cluttered again in no time.

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