This can be counted another Stupid Story Mistake. Summer posted at the Kick Ass Mystic Ninjas about a discussion between her, Jack Mangan, and Mur Lafferty about info dumps, long descriptive passages in the middle of a story, also called core dumps, expository lumps, death to the reader. Mur should visit us at be the story. She may not even be in the minority. Info dumps suck. Yet writers seem to be addicted to them.
On the writing boards, people are always asking how to write good descriptions. This or some variation of it is one of the most common questions. And the right answer: How do you write good descriptions? Dont! Just tell the story, and let the descriptions take care of themselves. As Holly Lisle points out in her Create a Character Clinic, you can be expository without entering exposition hell. I’ll touch on this subject in my next podcast. But for now, let me just say that descriptions suck. After you’ve established momentum, you might be able to convince the audience to coast through a short one with you. But long descriptions, including info dumps, never work.
Even a master like Stanislaw Lem has done info dumps on occasion. Lem is a brilliant thinker and a brilliant storyteller. But sometimes even he lets the first overcome the second. The info dumps in Fiasco, for example, are one reason why it’s not my favorite of Lem’s novels (though there are others, too). He stops to explain how faster-than-light travel works, or to expound on the dangers of operating a strider, or to pontificate on alien-human relations. This is all great stuff, truly, but boring in its own right. Tell me a story, and make it come alive to me.