An info dump is a chunk of exposition that is insufficiently integrated into the story being told. It’s also known as an “expository lump” and is a specific kind of exposition.
The info dump usually involves sharing your research notes with the reader, just to prove that you’ve done the research. While it’s sometimes necessary to give such information, make sure it sounds natural in your piece and not like a cut-and-paste from an encyclopedia.
Often an info dump is given by a Stapledon, a character serves no purpose other than to relate exposition, usually at great length and without interruption. As in real life, such characters are dull.
Another kind of info dumping is “maid-and-butler dialogue” in which characters tell each other things that they already should know so that the reader can overhear them. Unfortunately, those characters sound simple minded as the lines they deliver in real life would be inane.
Having said this, even the greatest writers are guilty of info dumping. Isaac Asimov is notorious for it in “The Foundation,” often regarded as one of the best novels in the science fiction genre. Frequently, however, these writers were allowed their transgression because the story the info dump itself was so fantastic (As a child, I had the same reaction to many encyclopedia articles that opened my eyes to the wider world). But with so many science fiction conventions that have appeared time and time again, your info dump probably isn’t all that fantastic. Given this, it’s best to avoid the info dump.
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.