An info dump, or exposition dump, is a term used to describe when an author halts the narrative to dump a bunch of information instead of weaving it naturally into the story.
If you want to subtly introduce key worldbuilding info without relying on info dumps, here are a few ideas. You can also check out some the 100+ page Worldbuilding Workbook for more worldbuilding goodness!
How do people pay for goods? In a world where food is rare, maybe grain is worth more than gold. Maybe your character pays for the metro using a chip in their wristband. Maybe they pay for an ale in a tavern and the barman gives them a freshly minted coin with the new queen’s face on it.
What meat is eaten, and why? Is it abundant? Is the more abundant meat source considered taboo to eat? Are some animals forbidden to hunt, for certain social strata? How does the climate impact what foods are available, and how does that influence the diet? Maybe the character glares at their potato soup, wishing for the seven-year winter to end so they could finally taste a tomato again.
You have the opportunity to sneak worldbuilding info through customs. What’s said when someone sneezes? How do people greet each other? Which god do they swear upon? How do they address their superiors? .
In a culture preoccupied with modesty, perhaps people are a little more covered up. In a culture where people have highly physical jobs or are expected to hunt and fight, perhaps the fashion is a little more practical. You can also use clothes to emphasise social or cultural divides. Maybe the character covets a wolf-fur cape, understanding its rareness because wolves have been extinct since the war.
Is this a warlike culture? Maybe that’s reflected in its architecture, with busts of great military leaders protruding from the palace walls. Is this country prone to rain and floods? Maybe that’s reflected in the way houses and roofs are built. We dive into all these topics in detail using the Worldbuilding Workbook.