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Q&A

How to avoid info dumps in fan fiction?

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I was wondering what kind of advice do you have to avoid info dumps in fan fiction? Granted this can usually be avoided in fan fiction by sticking to what is known. But when you work with au's or other canon divergence, how do you handle giving the info of what is different without boring your reader with a huge info dump?

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This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/q/37836. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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How did the original material introduce its setting, characters and mechanics to you? Exactly. Just do that, and chances are people who liked the way the original series did it will like the way your fanfiction does it as well. And if they didn't like the way it was done in the original series, then they probably won't be searching for its fanfictions, anyway.

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This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/a/37846. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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First, Ash's "drip-feed" is good advice. We are trying to avoid info-dumping, not information in general.

As for technique, my personal favorite is through the thoughts and memories of the POV character. This can take some engineering on the part of the author to produce scenes that force the information out.

Mark shook his head. "I won't do that, sir, the engine will explode."

Wen Li was confused. Surely Mark knew the engine wouldn't explode, that was the whole point of him installing a Markhan monitor in the first place, three years ago. What game was he playing?

"Wen?" the captain said. "Is that true?"

Mark did not even glance at her, he was cool and composed. Screw it. "Chief is absolutely right sir. I'd have said so myself."

And that means, the new captain doesn't trust Mark, and Mark doesn't trust him, and that boy better explain why she just risked her grade lying to a captain.

Give the (or a) POV character a reason to think on the information you want to convey, add a dash of conflict and the mission is painlessly accomplished.

Note that avoiding info-dumps is pretty much always much longer than just telling people. In this case, "The Markhan monitor keeps the fusion engine from exploding." But that is what it takes to weave the info into the story.

Edit: And besides that, trust in your reader's ability to infer things from relatively minor clues. We do that IRL all the time when we meet people, especially new people, and we are conscious of their dress, language, grooming, accent, etc. Not everything needs to be revealed explicitly.

"Mark! Haven't seen you in years!" He held his hand out to the girl. "Hi I'm Jeff, Mark and I came up in Boston together."

She shook his hand, Jeff noticed a wedding ring on her left hand as she shifted her purse.

"I'm Jen. Got to go, daycare." She looked at Mark. "See you at home. In fact, grab a pizza."

Jeff doesn't need anything else to realize Mark is married to Jen and they have at least one kid, and it isn't their honeymoon, and Mark knows what Jen wants on a pizza and from where. This is just a bit of personal information, but the same applies to world building. Don't treat your readers like third graders, or be so paranoid you have to spell things out for them. You can find ways to hint at it, and making inferences can be part of the fun of reading.

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