Print Preview: Formatting for CreateSpace 2. Front Matter, Section Breaks, Headers and Page Numbers

Order of Front Matter

To form my front matter I'm going to take my example from my copy of A Game of Thrones.

(Note that when you view two pages together in Word, the right pages are on the left and the left pages are on the right -- this is opposite to a book because when you open a book, the first page is on the right.)

Don't start creating the front matter pages until you've read up to the end of the third paragraph after this list to make your life a little easier.

The order goes thus:

1. Author Bio or Commendations - will be on the right side in the physical copy
(1.) (Alternatively, you might like to put the "by the same author" page here instead)

2. by the same author (could also be a blank page) - left side

3. Title Page - right side

4. Copyright - left side

5. Dedication or Quote - right side

6. Map pt. 1 (or could be blank)

7. Map pt. 2

8. Blank page

9. Start Chapter One

Hopefully you understand the above well enough to form your front matter to suit your book (if you don't, let me know and I will clarify and edit this post with the clarification), but try to closely imitate the presentation of a traditionally published book.

As far as the copyright pages and all, apart from actually acquiring copyright, which I know nothing about, again, try to imitate what you see in a traditionally published book.

Before you create all the above, you need to know about Section Breaks. What's a Section Break? No one cares, all we care about is what they do. They are related to the presentation of page numbers and headers so it's important that you get it right.

Section Breaks

Section breaks will allow you to withold the header, footer and page number on the first page of every "section", and to have different odd and even pages (author name on one side, book title on the other).

Monkey see, monkey do. Be the monkey.

I'm using justified 11pt Garamond as my main text. Please don't use Times New Roman, as it's never used in traditionally published books (and remember to select the text position "justify"). Garamond is used in Harry Potter. You can do a Google search for fonts used in books.

Here is your awesome Author Bio on the first page:

(My "About the Author" is 20pt if you're interested)

Now select Page Layout > Breaks > Next Page

And when you click that, your page should look like this:

Now type in your stuff for this page, or if you want to leave it blank, just click "Next Page" again and type in the stuff for the next page . . . and then hit "Next Page" again, and continue until you've reached your Chapter One page.

. . .
. . .
. . .

Phew! That took a while! Here's what mine looks like at a glance.

For this next bit I suggest you paste in your first two chapters. This will help you see what's changing as you make these alterations. Please save your document right now because this can get pretty dicey.


Please just ignore my double-spaced Times New Roman font for now. That's incredibly easy to change. You want to get your headers and page numbers right.

Go to your Chapter One page and double click in the space at the top of the page to make the header menu appear.

Under the Design menu which is now open, tick "Different First page" and "Different Odd and Even pages".

Now select the header of the next page and go into Insert > Header > Blank (Three Columns)

Select the centre and type in your author name. This should apply to every second header following. This should be in your "even page header", and it should say which header it is below it.

Now select the adjacent "Odd Page Header" and enter the same three column header using the same method as before.

Insert > Header > Blank (Three Columns)

Page Numbers

Now click your way onto an even-numbered page. Even page numbers must always be on the left (that is, in the published copy), so check this afterwards.

Select the left column in the even-numbered header and then select Insert > Page Number > Current Position > Plain Number

Delete the other [Type text] box and it should look like this:

Now select the Odd Page Header, select the right text box and repeat the process.

You've nearly finished with the trickiest bit of the whole process!

You'll notice that Chapter One and none of the front matter have headers on them, which is exactly what we want. This is thanks to all the "next page" breaks we put in earlier, and because we selected "different first page". All of them are considered "first pages", and thus the changes we made to the headers didn't affect them.

But have a look at Chapter Two.

It still has a header, because we haven't made it a first page yet by adding a "next page" break before it.

Depending on how you moved Chapter Two to the next page originally (if you hit Enter a bunch of times or if you used a page break), you will have to undo that. Just click your cursor right in front of Chapter Two and hit Backspace until you reach the last period/full stop of the last chapter.

Now enter your "next page" break and Chapter Two will move to the next page and be recognised as a "first page" without a header or page number.

When doing your final copy, you should repeat this Chapter Two process with any other chapters that have headers where they shouldn't. Also, if you want any back matter, you'll be able to simply keep hitting "next page".

Ignore the font choice, font size, and line spacing of the prose for now. We'll get to that next time. You've just solved the most brain-wracking puzzle of the budget formatter!

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Print Preview: Formatting for CreateSpace 1. Page Size and Margins

(Note: This walkthrough will be done in Word 2007 only. If you have another version, you may be able to find the corresponding menus and still follow these steps.)

Page Size

1. Go here to see a list of page sizes available for CreateSpace and choose one. (You might want to take a ruler and see how these compare with the books on your shelf.)
2. Open your Word Document and save it as [Title] - Formatted or whatever you wish. (Always keep this document separate from your manuscript.)

Your page should look like this:

3. Open the "Page Layout" menu.
4. Under "Size", select "More Paper Sizes".

5. Enter your desired paper size, chosen from the list back in step 1. (My Australian system defaults to cm, so I just type in "[x] in" and the system automatically changes the length (in) to the cm equivalent.)
I've chosen the 5x8 inches option.

It should now look like this:


1. Go here and read the useful information about margins. From the table on the right of that page, select the best margin for your book. (Since my book is more than 151 pages and less than 400, I'll be using ".75 in" margins all around, just to keep it simple.)
2. Select "Page Layout" > "Margins" > "Custom Margins"

If later on you find you don't like how the margins look with the text, you can change them. Try to keep within Amazon's specifications, though.

The next post will involve front matter and section breaks.

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Print Preview: Formatting for CreateSpace A Step-by-Step Guide

The aim with this series of posts will be to provide you all with a step-by-step guide for how to get from this:

to something like this:

I used this as a guide, but it took a lot of fiddling around to work it out. Go ahead and jump straight into Jenyfer Matthews's guide if you want to get into the nitty gritty right now. Otherwise, I'll be showing you the step-by-step process I followed that resulted in the above.

The series will include:
- Margins

- Front matter
- Section breaks
- Page numbers
- Headers
- Font choice
- Dropped caps

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Habitual November: Day 8

I've been gone for a while. From this blog, I mean. Yes, I've had some trouble writing the last few days. Five, to be exact. I should have jumped back on the ball after the first day I missed, but I kept getting distracted. Not by anything important, just stuff that's easier than writing.

"I hate writing. I love having written." -- Dorothy Parker

While I do love the actual construction of sentences and all that micro stuff, it is an intense and generally slow-going process for me, and it's certainly not easy.

Today I wanted to make up for the days I've missed. I'm sure it's okay to do this once in a while, but I don't want to get into the habit of writing big chunks sporadically. That's just not productive for me.

For this next bit I'll let the graph do the talking.

What was one of the things I did instead of writing?

I also made one of the pieces for my Aundes Aura sountrack available here at Amazon for 89c.

But enough of that. I wrote nearly 600 words today and I intend to write another 200+ tomorrow. I'm so close to the benchmark!

Expect some posts on formatting your print book for CreateSpace in the next week or two under the heading Print Preview.

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Habitual November: Day 3

When school returned for the last half of October, I lost it. Writing fell to the wayside once more. School's tiring, and it always seems to have this effect on me. Well, not anymore. You know why?


I'll savour this feeling while it lasts. I have a few exams left, but they're nothing.

This couldn't have come at a better time for my writing. I'm on the cusp of hitting 60,000 words, which I've now decided is my bare minimum goal. I'm really shooting for the end now. It's not exactly in sight; I have many grand events clouding the way. But those events are clear to me. The path is laid out and now I just have to follow it.

The beginning of each new month repeatedly gives me new resolve. I consciously think: it's the 1st tomorrow -- I can start writing again! I don't know why this makes it easier, but at least I can rely on it. The only catch is that I need to make the effort.

The writing's going well so far. I've written all three days. I could show the graph but I'll just tell you, I'm above the line.

Good luck and good speed to all the NoNoers. The least I can do to support you is to attack my own measley daily goals.

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Habitual October: Day 11

I've overcome the relentless strain of trying to write while school's on. Well, today was my first day back and I managed to write. That's one point to me!

What's the awesome news? I've only got 2 weeks left of school!

After that? I'm sure I'll discover more things that get in the way of writing. I just hope I can manage to work around them.

As far as the actual writing goes, I'm still making good use of Write or Die. When I'm worried about not having much to write about, I set it to write 200 words in 20 minutes. Sometimes, though, I trick myself, and set it to write 200 words in 30 minutes. This takes some pressure off, because I'm happy with anything over 200 words, but I keep writing until those 30 minutes are up and often surpass 300 words despite my lack of confidence in myself.

I did that today, and finished with 321 words after edits. Certainly not bad, when I thought I might struggle.

Speaking of struggles, last night was probably the worst I've had it as far as word flow. Not just the production of the words (which tend to be pretty good artistically), but in the construction. I couldn't find the right words to express this beautiful village I have in my mind. Still, I pushed through that section to get it down and now I'm on to more exciting things. Sometimes the best thing is just to put down what you can, keep going, and when you've finished the chapter or the first draft, you can come back and work on that scene for as long as you like.

Funnily enough, I still got 277 words down in that session. I'm finding that the ease of producing a decent number of words each day is increasing just through the action of doing it every day.

And that is the whole point of my ongoing Habituals series.

We're 11 days into the month and I'm over 3,500 words. To some that might be nothing. To me it's huge. I've had months where I've struggled to pass 2,000 words. Everyone has to do what works for them, and for now, this works for me. Maybe when this habit's more ingrained in me, I'll be able to increase the minimum daily goal to 300 words, and later 400 words. I'm staying safe for now, until I'm confident I can stick to it.

Pretty picture time? I think so.

Spontaneous Linkage: Connecting Plot Points

How Do You Bridge the Gap Between Two Cool Moments in Your Novel?

This link was shared on a forum recently, showing three established authors' views on connecting plot points.

The first one really hit home for me, because I'm doing something very similar, utilising three characters' points of view to minimise on "uncool" sequences. Maybe I'll do a more in-depth post on that another time. As for now, here's what he said.

David J. Williams, author of The Mirrored Heavens and The Burning Sky:

Writing with an ensemble cast of main characters has its disadvantages, but one of the big pluses is that it makes it easier to maneuver past this kind of problem. The entirety of the Autumn Rain trilogy is cutting back and forth between (widely separated) points of view, focusing on the highlights of each "plot vector", whether that's in a maglev tunnel beneath the Atlantic or in a bio-dome in the middle of a lunar fortress. This was a deliberate decision, in that I often find myself skimming pages of various books to get to the Next Cool Moment, so when it came to writing MIRRORED HEAVENS, I wanted to leave anything skimmable on the cutting room floor. That being said. . . sometimes "downtime" affords hidden opportunities. . . . are there implications or clues to the situation that two characters can talk about? Is there an opportunity here for more exposition or a newsfeed, or some kind of world-building? If the answer's no, then just fast-forward as much as you need to; readers will forgive almost anything save being bored. Screenwriters are taught to get into scenes late and get out of them early, and there are times I wish more novelists did the same!

MIP (Maps in Progress): October 8th

Wow! I can't believe it's been 5 months since I last worked on this.

Here is what Válkia looked like before I worked on it last night. (Click on the images to see them in more detail.)

And after?

I've added some rivers around the outside of the main land, two new batches of forest in the north of Meira and the south of Arlea. The most unexpected change is the new land mass to the north-east, which teases a setting sometime, somewhere in The Válkia Chronicles. Across that sea lies a desert. That's all I'm saying for now.

Habitual October: Day 7

Hooray for writing 8 days in a row!

Date New wordsTotal words
30. Sep 201100
1. Oct 2011460460
2. Oct 2011298758
3. Oct 20112961054
4. Oct 20112221276
5. Oct 20113181594
6. Oct 20112361830
7. Oct 20113782208

Well this is convenient. I've never been about to post this table before.

But I think it's an awesome example of how consistency adds up, even if you're a slow writer like me.

As far as today goes, I used Write or Die to good effect. Well, it did get me to nearly 400 words!

I'm sad to say that school's coming back very soon, on Tuesday, and we've all seen how I am with schedules. I'm still going to give it another try. Maybe one of these days I'll get it right! Maybe I never will. I'll always find a way to write, though!

You can now click the Aundes Aura thumbnail in the sidebar to go to the Aundes Aura Facebook page. It'd be much appreciated if you could stop by and "like" it.

(I've had a problem with likes not registering recently. Can you double check, and if it hasn't registered, unliking and re-liking seems to do the trick.)

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Habitual October: Day 4

I've had a lot of late nights this month. And I mean a lot. Speak of the devil, it's currently 3:40am in Australia. I blame daylight savings.

My writing is coming along smoothly. I've written five days in a row, never less than 200 words, sometimes passing 300. That's all I need. 7,000 words in one month is just awesome, and I'm well on track.

It does help that I counted the words from September 30th, but since I hadn't written in so long I only thought it fair, and why not take a little pressure off? Pressure's never done my writing any good.

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Spontaneous Linkage

How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done

Sample Sunday: October 2nd

Two samples today, because I feel like it. And, I suppose, because it's been a while.

Miren chuckled and shook his head. “So innocent of the power within you. Saera,” said Miren, shuffling the chains around between his fingers, “Aundes’s light penetrates corruption. The master is afraid that you might know how to use this against his men. The way of the Order has slowly corrupted their souls, and if they are too corrupt, there wouldn’t be anything left when you were done.”

“He says you can burn our souls through our eyes.”
“Oh, yes,” mocked Saera. “And you wouldn’t want me doing that. You see, when I burn your soul, you can never go to the gods. Never.”
He stopped and stared blankly into the distance.
“You remain here, a phantom watching over your rotting corpse into eternity. Eternity’s a long time, my friend.”

Habitual October: Day 1

Put simply: success.

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October, here I come.

Nothing has been happening for me on the writing front. I'd say I was too busy with school, but that would be lying. I'm a lazy student. But it's still tiring, and it's much harder to write after a day of school than without.

I haven't written these holidays either . . . until now.

And after I'd decided to write tonight, I took special note of the fact that tomorrow would be the 1st of October. I thought fondly back to July, when I started writing on the 1st and managed to hit 7,000 words.

I want to do that again.

My intentions for the next month are this:
- Writing is back in
- Habituals are back in
- Blog posts are back in

Can I achieve my goals? We can only wait and see.

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Aundes Aura has a Facebook page!

Part of getting my cover done was that I could start a Facebook page ahead of time and update people when I reach milestones in my progress.

You can view the page here. Like if you want -- I could do with a few more members. I don't update too often.

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Sample Sunday: September 11th

Miren stood and straightened his shirt. "Small piece of advice. Don't compare us with the Church. Given the numbers we'd bring them down in a heartbeat. But fear is a powerful tool, and they wield it like a hammer. That's how they build their army. Not even the Queen could match their numbers, let alone surpass them. Duthonne faces a dark future. You're better off here."

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Writers' Tools: The Beverage

Useful if you're Splurging. Useful if you're not Splurging. A good beverage is an all-round good egg.

Maybe you like tea. Go with that.

Maybe you like coffee. Why not?

Me, I like iced coffee. That one's great for summer.

I go through what I call drink fads. At one point in time I'll have a tendency towards iced coffees. At the same time the next year I'll be drinking chai tea all the time. Well, that's me now.

Whenever I'm writing, I have a chai tea. What I like to do is fire up the computer, open up my manuscript, read over the last few lines and skim the last page or two to get my grounding, and then go off to make my chai. While the kettle's boiling and as I make up the drink, I'm free to think about how I'm going to approach the next page. I love this because then, when I sit down, my mind's already "warmed up", so to speak. I've got an idea of where I'm going and how to start off.

Maybe I don't know how to start, and that's fine as well. I've got a drink to occupy myself with while I think.

One more perk of this little "tool" is the subconscious association I've undoubtedly developed between having a chai tea and actually writing.

Try it out if you want. It might work for you. It might not. We all know how subjective writers are.

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Hiati is Not the Plural of Hiatus

It's hiatuses, if anyone was wondering.

Dear God, I've had too many of these over the last month and a half. Two too many. [Winks.] Those two hiatuses are from writing and blogging, which invariably go hand in hand. When I write, it stimulates ideas for me to blog about, apart from the regular excerpts and progress updates (for which it also helps to actually have written something!).

It was the return of school that really threw me off. Unfortunately, this is one hell of a year, and the work is tiring. Fortunately, in three months it'll all be over.

I wrote tonight, inspired by the words of a friend. < Good use of the passive voice, I think. I could've said, " . . . inspired by a friend's words", but 1. That's less common in colloquial language and 2. The passive voice draws attention to the "words" rather than the "friend". I'm planning on doing a separate post on passive voice as part of my grammar series.

Anyway, yes, I wrote tonight. It felt good, of course. It might have felt better if it had been earlier and I hadn't avoided writing two pieces for French by doing it, but I'm glad I did. I'm now in a much better position to continue writing from where I finished tonight.

I'm in a tricky place. There aren't any scenes coming up that I already have an image of in my mind. Oh, maybe one, I guess. You see, I keep these scenes in my mind at points all along the story, and I use these to urge me towards them. They're my motivation. Then when I get to them, I seem to charge through them like a lightning bolt. Then I need a new vivid scene that I can write towards.

I passed 50,000 words. It felt mighty victorious at the time, but I would have felt much better had I kept trundling along. I've lost so much opportunity, but I must accept that there are times when writing isn't the most important thing. The thing is, when I'm not writing, I'm not doing "the most important thing", either, and I think that's what disappoints me the most.

I've bought a device which switches off my internet between 5:00pm and 7:00pm. I can switch it back on manually, but that would defeat the purpose. I haven't been using it. I will again at some point. I've set it back to working now.

The holidays aren't too far off, and I think my writing will benefit greatly from them. (Hopefully I'll have hit 60,000 by the end of them.)

I'll be trying to phase my writing and blogging back in over the next couple of weeks. Bear with me, and thanks for sticking around!

Liebster Award!

Thanks to Serendipital Me for the Liebster Award. This is apparently an award for friendship. I looked up the translation of Liebster for interest's sake, and it means "favourite", so there you go!

The five bloggers I'm awarding this to are:
- Mood at Moody Writing
- Mysti Parker at Unwritten
- Julia Hones at My writing life.
- Jean Davis at Discarded Darlings
- Zella Kate at Grammatically Motivated, without whom I probably wouldn't still be here, now almost two years since I began the blog.

I want to thank the above five people and everyone else here for your continued support. There were several more contenders than those I listed.

There are five steps for you to follow in order to officially recieve this award.

1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Post the award on your blog.

4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the internet – other writers.

5. And best of all – have fun and spread the karma.

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Grammar: who's vs. whose

I've been seeing some confusion between these two words around the internet, so I thought I'd go over the basics.

Whether to use "who's" or "whose" is a question of contraction vs. possession.

Knowing that, it's pretty clear which is which, isn't it? But it's when people come to using the possessive variety that I often see them fall back on the contraction.

So here are a few examples of the rights and wrongs of this minefield.

Correct: "Who's that?"
(Contracted version of "Who is that?")

Correct: "Who's been here before?"
(Contraction of "Who has been here before?")

Incorrect: "Who's cake is that?"
(To check this: it would be weird if you said "Who is cake is that?"
Also, this is another way of saying "Who does that cake belong to?")

Correct: "Whose cake is that?"
(It is a question of possession.)

Incorrect: The man who's dog ran away.
(Check: "The man who is dog ran away?" That doesn't make sense.)

Correct: The man whose dog ran away.
(The dog belongs to the man.)

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Critique Circle Update

Chapter Seven of Aundes Aura is now up for review!

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Aundes Aura

(This book is a work-in-progress.)

Eoin’s sister, Saera, is afflicted. Seven years ago, while venturing into a cave behind a waterfall, she absorbed the Aura of the Goddess of Light, who cultivates war by making men blind to one another.

Their father, the village blacksmith, languishes in the dungeons for refusing to fight in the Duthonian army, so the siblings must fend for themselves, begging for coin by day and stealing into houses for food by night. Meanwhile, the power-hungry Church prepare an army for an all-out attack on neighbouring country, Meira.

When the Aura reveals itself within Saera, the Church make it known they are coming for her. She and Eoin take flight and with the help of Faine, a traveller with a mysterious past, they fight off their pursuers. Making alliances they would never have dreamt of, they find themselves swept up into a struggle against the country they once called their own.

Sample Sunday: July 24th

     A dark patch indicated an exit up ahead. Stopping by the last pair of braziers, Fórdhain put an arm across Eoin’s shoulders and said, “Now, Eoin, when you get out there, don’t be going and doing anything stupid. There’s something we teach here very early on: if you’re not up to the challenge facing you, it’s better to run than to die. Or something like that. The words keep changing but it’s all the same concept.”

     “What about them?”
     Fórdhain chuckled. “They know how to fight.”
     “I know how to fight.”
     “Against trained men? Somehow I doubt it.” Fórdhain scratched the dark stubble on his chin and slowly turned Eoin to face him. “Come back here alive and I’ll show you how. You can stay with me and help us save the poor from hunger and sickness.”
     Eoin’s heart leapt. “You mean it?”
     Faine grabbed Eoin and pulled him back away from Fórdhain. “I’m sure the young man has more important things to be doing than running around with a bunch of thieves.” Then he whispered into Eoin’s ear. “Don’t let him fool you into his service. You still have a life to live.”

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Habitual July: Day 24

Well, I've missed a few days here and there unfortunately, but I wrote today and that's something. At this point I only have 1,000 words left to write to reach 7,000 words this month. I'm well past my 5,000 word goal of earlier months.

I knew this was going to be a challenge with school coming back. By George, it was!

I've been hoping to implement a schedule but we all know schedules don't work for me.

Anyway, here's the rundown.

12. Jul: 319
Total: 3966

13. Jul: 271
Total: 4237

14. Jul: 74
Total: 4311

16. Jul: 695
Total: 5006

17. Jul: 222
Total: 5228

18. Jul: 237
Total: 5465

21. Jul: 234
Total: 5699

24. Jul: 227
Total: 5926

I'm miraculously still ahead of schedule, but I'm headed the wrong way. No matter where I go from here, though, it can't negate the great accomplishment this month has been. I can only be proud of how far I've come, and hope that I can take what I've learnt into the next month and beyond.

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Sample Monday: July 18th

I had scheduled this to post on Sunday but it didn't. So here's the tardy Sample Monday. (Unfortunately, it doesn't have the same ring.)

Saera could hear the raucous in the faraway streets despite sitting in the Queen’s spare room. The sounds were uncommon to the dusk light that fell threw her window; there were no voices calling good evening or be careful with that, boy. They were shouts, screams. She leapt from her bed and struggled with the door latch, and when she finally got it open she marched with bare feet towards the Queen’s study. From there, from the balcony, she would be able to see what was happening. A silly argument in the street? A boy from the Underground thieving an apple? No, the screams she had heard were of fear, shrill and desperate.

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On Writing [Fantasy World Building]: Info-Dumps and How to Avoid Them

Ah, info-dumps! The bane of fantasy writers the world over.

A large volume of data supplied at [one] time, says the internet.

Czech: informace o výpis

In writer terms:
A great wad of information on backstory placed at an inappropriate time and/or in an inappropriate manner.

What's the lure of this? You've spent all this time developing your world and you desperately want to let the reader know all about it!

Give it time.

Your readers are smart. They don't need to know everything from the beginning. The most important thing in the first three chapters is to hook your reader into the adventure.

Start where the story starts (more on this in another post) and stay relevant to the action.

The biggest info-dump offenders are prologues and first chapters (Ryan, I'm looking at you).

Yes, yes, I've written a prologue and in my old draft I had a nice, juicy info-dump. I can tell you now, my new first chapter is much stronger without the storyteller character, and without it being seven years before the story even starts.

Don't bother reading the next five hundred paragraphs unless you really want to. This is an example of an info-dump from my old draft -- in Chapter One -- and an example of what not to do. (It also involves the fantasy trope of the storyteller!)

Also, this was almost 70,000 words ago and I'm a much better writer!

“And so the Great Peace of the Gods returned once more. Since then our country, Duthonne, and Meira to the north-east have not warred due the differences in our beliefs.”
One of the children chimed in, “Old Hanne? Do you think the war will ever start again?”
“I hope not, child, for the War of the Gods was one of horrors beyond your imagination. Ah, Eoin...and Saera, too. Please come join us.” They sat on the grass in front of him.
“What was so horrible about the War of the Gods?” asked one of the children.
“They didn’t just use normal weapons. At the beginning of time the Gods sent down gifts into our world. These gifts were supposed to make the world perfect. The Gods hoped that our people would be able to use these gifts to solve our problems. Careus Aura would allow a person to alter time. A man could decrease the amount of time it took for a berry bush to grow. There was Kathes Aura. With this gift one could take control of the nature around them. The Gods were confident that their Solution was the key to the success of this world, but not all had gone to plan. While the Gods’ plan was near to perfect, humankind was, and is, imperfect. If things had been different, if humans were better people, the Solution may have worked. But we were blinded by our hatred for each other. People began to exploit the Auras to their own ends.
“Duthonne and Meira have differing concepts of which Gods are good and which are evil. For example, Maechre, the God of the Passing, is revered by our people as the one who allows our friends and family to pass into the Overworld so that they can rest in peace. The people of Meira, however, fear him as they believe that he is the one responsible for the deaths of those close to them. It is due to humanity’s flaws that the War broke out between the two countries. Humanity’s ‘Blindness’ was our inability to see the good in others. We could not understand that there is no such thing as good and evil, right and wrong. There is only what people think. Yet people still believe today that they must be right. The Church teaches us that the Aundes, the Goddess of Light, is to be held in contempt. It is taught that with her light she blinded us, and in doing so she began the War of the Gods.”
“What about Arlea? What Gods do they look up to over there?” asked Eoin.
“Ah, the island to the north,” said Old Hanne. “It’s quite simple. Arlea didn’t adopt a preference to any of the Gods. It is in fact the only place which retained its traditions fully. Duthonne and Meira have changed so much now that they are but a shadow of what was. The two countries adapted separately from one another until now they are quite different. Come to Duthonne and you will see in each town a hint of culture, different from what you would see in Meira. However, travel to Arlea and you will not only see Arlea as it is, but Duthonne and Meira as they were. It is the nature of humankind to adapt and change. The people of Arlea had been served well by tradition, though, so they continued to live by tradition.
“Now, didn’t you three say you had to be home about now?” Old Hanne directed his question to the other children.
“Oh!” Quickly the three got up and ran off, leaving just Eoin and Saera with Old Hanne.
“Tell us another story, Old Hanne!”
“Well,” began Old Hanne, “do you know the Tarne River to the east?”
“Of course we do.” This was the river that the two would spar at to pass time.
“I’ve heard tales about a waterfall that can be found if you follow the river south. Do you remember what I said about Aundes, the Goddess of Light?”
“Yes,” said Eoin. “She’s evil because she started the War of the Gods.”
Hanne lowered his voice to a whisper. “Well, that’s what the Church says, but what they say isn’t necessarily true. I told you that Aundes blinded us and because of that we can’t see the good in each other.” Old Hanne raised his voice back to normal. “I don’t believe that. You see, people don’t like to think that some things are their fault, and so they blame them on other people.”
“So, Aundes didn’t blind us? It was just made up as an excuse?” asked Eoin.
“Probably. All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t just believe what the Church says. In our society, the Church has the greatest influence. Too many people today think that just because they says it’s true, it must be. I know much because I’ve always asked myself questions. From my studies of the world I now understand that there isn’t really good or evil. This idea is based only on what people want to believe: that they are right.”

Eight . . . hundred . . . and . . . fifty . . . four . . . unnecessary . . . words.

Why are info-dumps so bad? Because they slow down the real story, the story your readers are actually interested in.

How to Avoid Them

Stop! Reconsider before throwing them down in slews in the first three chapters. What your readers do need is grounding -- they need to know where the characters are, what they're doing and why. But of course, don't tell us these things (otherwise it would become an info-dump), but show us.

My new first chapter that I plan to write in my next draft, the main characters start out alone, hungry and desperate. But I don't want to go telling everyone why they're desperate. I'll show them instead. So in my first scene the MC will be sneaking into a house at night-time to steal a loaf of bread. That shows that they're desperately starving -- it doesn't need to be said

Later, we will find out through the dialogue of the characters that their father was taken away by the government. Or perhaps another way to approach this would be for the characters to have a discussion, which would then prompt a thought by the MC as to what had happened with the father.

And I think that's an important technique to take away from this.

Demonstrate your world-building through prompt.

When your character sees something for the first time in the book, that's a good time to throw in a line or a paragraph about it.
The path came to a gradual incline, and the horses soon began to pant. They continued to the top of the hill, where Eoin could see the entire capital city from where he stood on the hill. The water surrounding it sparkled in the thirteenth-hour sunlight. Three bridges spanned the water to link the city to the mainland. Two of them were in ruins.
Within the city, great buildings rose higher than the ones Eoin was used to back in Tarne. Rising above almost all the others he could see the church. The front of its roof was adorned with statues of the four good gods. The only building that rose higher than the church was that of the Grand Tower. Here lay the seat of power in all Duthonne. Since the King’s death several hundred years ago, they held dominance over the land as there had been no royal blood to replace the King.
The great thing is, once you've cut all those info-dumps from the beginning, it's much easier to find things to write about when you come to new places, because you didn't blow it all in the beginning.

World-build to your heart's content; it can only make your world richer and truer. Just don't expect it all to get mentioned.

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Welcome to The Dark Corner of the Mind. My name is Ryan Sullivan and my aim with this blog is to help others with their own writing, as well as to make note of some of my own writing endeavours.

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