In my current work in progress, one of the scenes contains a speech by a politician. The information given in the speech is essential to the story moving forward. The other characters and the reader need to hear what the politician has to say. As the writer, the difficult part is keeping the scene interesting. It could easily turn into a sort of info-dump. I don’t want to get into the situation where I am simply using the speech to get the information to the reader. That is boring and unimaginative, and my readers will no doubt see right through it. I set out to find an example novel that I could learn from. Gentlemen by Michael Northrop became that book.
In Gentlemen, the scene that I looked at was not a speech, but a lecture in a high school classroom. The situation was the same, however. The teacher in the classroom, Mr. Haberman, is speaking about the book War and Peace. The students – including the point of view character – and the reader need this information in order to move forward in the story. To keep the scene interesting, Northrop uses a balance of character interactions and internal monologue to keep the point of view character and the reader engaged in the information that is being disseminated.
I'm now trying to find that line in my own writing. What is too much information? There really is no correct answer, as different readers will tolerate different levels of information being given to them. I guess I just need to figure out what seems authentic. I'm going to continue studying techniques used in books like Gentlemen in order to improve.