So, you’re reading a great passage and really like the writing. You’re eager to get to the second paragraph, and then it happens. So. Many. Details.
Perhaps too many characters are introduced at a time and the focus is on the wrong descriptions, leaving nothing tangible for the reader to remember the character by.
Or maybe there are too many things in a room, a paragraph-long sentence describing the flashing of Christmas lights, or backstory on characters who readers will never see again.
These things, dear people, are called infodumps.
I had a friend go through my first few chapters, and that was one thing she dinged me on. I described a whole cabin from front to back. The layout was important for the novel, but given all at once, NO ONE is going to remember it all. Glad she pointed that out.
So, I changed my tactic. I gave details slowly. Anything I wanted people to remember had to be given in increments.
Even though talking about crossing through the study to get to the den was an important detail for a later scene, the things IN the study, though also relevant later in the book, weren’t important to include at that time.
If you present a big chunk of information (or a small chunk of highly detailed information) to establish a character or setting, you risk giving your readers flashbacks of their ex’s family reunion–they’re going to be overwhelmed and need a break.
Don’t do that to your readers because nothing makes someone skim faster than too much info, especially when it’s irrelevant.
Check out avoiding the infodump for a few ideas on how to present information without overwhelming your reader.