Infodumping, and other SFF writer's lingo ?

Sir Vivor

Well-Known Member
Feb 11, 2018
Very close to the heart of Europe..
Hi, as a newcomer I came across some terms in the forum that I'm not familiar with. Things like "infodumping".. can someone point me to a handy place where such terms are defined? BTW, Wikipedia doesn't have an entry for "infodumping"..
Infodumping = the author stopping the story a moment to explain something.

A few lines can be fine, but when it starts to run into multiple continuous pages - or even chapters! - then there's probably a problem. :)
Info dumping is a bit like salt for flavouring in food. A little here and there in the right place is great, often essential. Poured all over the place spoils the experience.

So any book is going to have some degree of info dumping; fantasy and scifi often have a lot more than contemporary novels since the world itself has to be built up. Done right it fits into the story and feeds the readers inquisitive need to understand more about he story and the world and what is going on.
I didn't think infodumping was specific to SFF, having heard crime , historical and romance talk of it. Literary prefers the term "exposition".

Any book will require info to be imparted to the reader through the story; and the more complex and detailed the story the more information it will have to convey to the reader. Thing is contemporary stories have the advantage of having more generally understood terminology and events. Fantasy and sci-fi however, often have many elements that require the reader to be informed above; even the most basic things like major religions are a huge unknown factor.
I think this is why it often comes up a bit more in writing that is more removed from modern life and influences. But its also why we get things like elves and dwarves being re-used over and over as generic races (esp in fantasy - sci fi tends to be a bit more open in race selection/design).

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