Writing: Info Dumps Vs Mysteries

I was thinking about this recently with respect to a short story idea I had.

Having an info dump at the beginning of a story is used sometimes as a way to pass give the reader a lot of the background info the writer wants the reader to know. Even Tolkien, JKR and GRRM sometimes do this, even though it is generally frowned upon by other writers.

However the idea I have been working on is the concept of leaving breadcrumbs and clues for the reader via other characters being secretive and there being a mystery around certain things important to the plot. Thus the mystery about why it is a secret or taboo topic becomes a subplot.


"Spirit Warriors?" asked Belita. "What is a Spirit Warrior?"

The grey wizened elf looked away, his eyes staring into the fireplace. "An obsolete type of fighting. Don't concern yourself about it. Hasn't been a Spirit Warrior in these parts in centuries. They're almost a myth these days. We should concern ourselves with the task at hand."

And there you go. No big info dump. Just a few tantalizing clues and rare knowledge.

More clues later. Then more. Eventually the reader has the full picture of what Spirit Warriors are. Just the name "Spirit Warrior" gives you a clue that their powers are somehow mystical.

Ambiguity to me can be a blessing, like mysteries and secrets. Characters with secret motivations to me are invaluable. You don't reveal their true goals until near the end of the book, and only then does their actions make sense.

For example there is a character in particular I am thinking of in my novel "The Demon's Sacrifice" which falls into this category.

The eBook is $7.99 CDN and the paperback in Canada is $9.99. International prices may vary.

The Demon's Sacrifice, Paperback

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