When a writen story is set in a fiction world or when a character changes locals to an environment that may be vastly different to what was introduce/what they would know from real life (ie. going from the deserts outside Rabanastre to the Golmore Jungle in Final Fantasy XII) is it wise to infodump about the area for the sake of having the reader having a clear image of the location before being fed the story?

ie. with a Golmore Jungle infofump one would describe the insanely huge trees and how they can get so large, how the Viera make use of the trunks and branches to from paths and buildings and how these paths are maintained and how the things transition to the jungle from the Ozmone Plains

  • Agree w/ the above by Lauren Ipsum. Tolkien used appendices and prologues to this effect in Lord of the Rings. If you enjoy the worldbuilding work but the majority of it is ultimately unrelated to the core plot, you might consider that method. Then people that are curious as to the history of the trees in the forest can read up on it without everyone else getting lost in the woods as it were...
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


It's not generally a good idea to infodump, because it bores the reader and grinds the plot to a halt. You can get some of the information you want in through normal scene descriptions - the size of the trees will be obvious to any character who can see them, for example, as will the wooden paths and buildings between them.

As a general rule of thumb, if it's not relevant to the plot or your characters, it should probably stay out of the story. How do the trees get so large? Well, if it's relevant to the plot, your characters (and readers) will find out in time anyway. If it isn't, you're probably better off leaving it as a footnote than explaining it for pages: 'Character A had heard that the trees were so big because of [magic/high oxygen content in the atmosphere/the locals' incredibly good composting regime], but it was hard to imagine that even [magic/high oxygen levels/an entire ocean of horse manure] could ever have this effect'.

Keep it relevant to the plot or the characters somehow. If you really feel you have to discuss it, let your characters react to it with [wonder/scientific curiosity/disgust at the amount of animal crap lying around] - don't shut them out of the story so you can ramble to the reader for a page and a half about the wonders of compost. That sort of stuff belongs in a companion book or website, not the main story.


It depends on how you mean "infodump". If you mean should you set the scene and describe the environment so that the reader is now aware of where the action is taking place (and / or that travelling has occurred) then yes, though only what is necessary for the plot / story to continue for the time being. If you don't, your reader could get confused and hung up on this fact, thus losing them.

If you mean should you explain (as opposed to describe) the environment and how it came to be as it is, then no... unless it's really, really interesting and has some bearing on the plot. Even then, it really ought to be incorporated into the story in a more relevant way that interacts directly with the characters.

My general take on worldbuilding is that it should work for your story, as opposed to your story working for your worldbuilding. After all, the reader wants a story first and foremost.

(Hope that helps!)

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