I’m re-listening to Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s League Series. I’m preparing for the release of Born of Vengeance which is dropping on February 7th. I’m super excited because I love these books. They’re dark, brutal, and apologetically graphic.
Listening to them back-to-back though, I’ve noticed something that I wouldn’t normally notice if I were reading them one per year. She does a lot of info dumps. For those of you asking; what the fuck is an info dump? I and Google will enlighten you.
a very large amount of information supplied all at once, especially as background information in a narrative.
An info dump is the first thing they tell writers not to do. Any editor, critique partner, published writer, and agent will give you a giant lecture about how this is a HUGE faux pas.
You’ll get advise. Reveal it slowly. Work the information into the narrative in stages. Express information through dialogue. These are all ways of working backstory into your narrative.
Sherrilyn Kenyon has incredibly dense info dumps but in a sneaky almost genius way. There are quite a few…”I don’t understand” statements in her novels. What this means is a character is presented with a vague or cryptic piece of information and then responds…”I don’t understand”. What follows is the explanation of the whole history of this person/event explained in wide sweeping paragraphs. You don’t really notice until you’re listening to seven or eight books, one after the other, and you keep hearing the same device used again and again.
Another issue I’ve noticed in my binge listening stint is something Laurel K Hamilton fell into somewhere after the The Killing Dance in the Anita Blake novels.Maybe this is just a product of long series and you can’t avoid it. I don’t know but as the books go on; these feel less and less about the atrocities and fascist tendencies of the League (the over arching ruling body of the 9 worlds) and more about cultural norms of a particular species. I get it. You created this amazing race of people with cultural norms that, I’m gonna be honest, sometimes blow my mind. I wish I were that awesome to create something like that. Maybe one day I will be.
I get there has to be character development but there also has to be plot development. And in a series, this becomes particularly difficult. There has to be series plot development, always moving the over arching story forward. But there also has to be book plot development. I too find this difficult, to always be moving the larger story along as well as the smaller individual book plot ahead. I’m not complaining. I still love this universe she created and will follow it until the end. There is, however, an issue of getting lost in the trees.
I am a writer and a reader. I understand that no book is perfect. Mine sure aren’t. In the first few Blushing Death novels, I might use too many metaphors. This was pointed out to me by a goodreads.com review. Thank you to that person, by the way. I now go through and eliminate unnecessary metaphors and similes in my edits.
I guess the lesson we take from this is that the rules don’t really matter. You can break any and all of them, if you do it well.
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