The last couple of days, I’ve been plugging away at a chapter near the end of my current story. (No I’m not nearly that far yet, but I’m trying to give myself a road map so I stay on track and make sure I’m laying the foundation for the end I want.) After burning a couple of hours on it last night, I reached the conclusion it’s not working. The dialogue feels forced, it’s hard as hell to write and I can’t seem to transition from one part of the action to the next. Even though it’s not narrator heavy, it may as well be. In the same way you end up with problems when there aren’t enough characters to drive the action and dialogue, too many characters can result in having too much information come all at once. I should call the problem by it by it’s real name The dreaded information dump (sometimes these are necessary and, if done well, good).
Once again, I think back to my work-shopping days and how I was frequently told that I had an information dump problem, and I’m dead certain I told people that as well. It’s an excellent thing to help someone find, but saying “you have an information dump here” isn’t particularly helpful. From the reader’s perspective it’s an easy thing to identify. I feel like it can be harder to see from this side of the page. Even harder yet is finding a way to eliminate the problem, or find a way for it to work. In the situation I’m working through now, the solution is to simply break up the conversation. I’m going to remove a character or two from the problematic scene, and have them go away before bringing in the characters I had to remove. In this way, the dialogue will be split up according to the relevant character instead of trying to work it in naturally, after the fashion of a real conversation with a bunch of people.