Filtering Out Those Filter Words

I spend a fair amount of time talking about filter words. That is because they plague me without mercy. Some would say they are the hallmark of a bad writer, others would say even the best writers fall prey to them. So what exactly are they?

They are lazy words, extra words and useless words that creep into a sentence too often. They take the place of words with more literary value.

Here are some of the most common ones I find in my writing

  • Believe
  • Wonder
  • Thought, Think, to think
  • See, to see, saw
  • feel, to feel, felt
  • look, looked
  • Touch
  • Realize
  • watch
  • seem
  • note
  • That
  • Just
  • to be able to
  • hear, heard
  • notice
  • experience
  • sound 
  • Pretty
  • Here
  • actually
  • a bit
  • really
  • very
  • simply
  • rather
  • so
  • quite

There are lists aplenty online that have others and explanations. Basically, they can make a sentence stale and or repetitive. These little words can suck the life out of a sentence faster than you can say “I’m pretty sure I believe they seem to be actually very useless words.”

Here are some actual examples from my new story and how I fixed them.

Edna looked away from me and turned to her son. “You really have to stop bringing the stray’s home Tray, you’re not a boy anymore. I’m pretty sure you can’t fix this one.”

Fixed:

Edna released me from her trance and turned to her son. “You must stop bringing the stray’s home Tray, you’re not a boy anymore. You can’t fix this one.”

Not only did I chop out the filter words but I made Edna more of a bitch, which is good for portraying her character.

The next has a lot wrong with it.

Furious, Edna simply told me to sit and be quiet. I didn’t really get a chance to defend myself. I sat with a thud on the cheap chair that felt very lumpy and looked at my phone wondering what to do. I realized she doesn’t seem to understand and doesn’t want to listen to reason. 

That needs some rearranging and fixing for certain.

Here it is fixed;

Furious, Edna pointed at the lumpy cheap chair.”Sit and be quiet.”
She didn’t give me a chance to defend myself. I sat with a thud and scowled at my phone like a sulky child. What do I do? She doesn’t understand and won’t listen to reason. 

That’s better and gets to the point.

Filter words are best found in editing if they are highlighted. I do this all the time. I also highlight overused words like I, me, myself, said, ate, eat, drink, smelled etc… Overused words are easy to find as they are a type of filter words. I explain how I search and find them in Well colour me silly.

Not all filter words are bad, sometimes they fit into the sentence perfectly and belong there. Sometimes, rarely, but if I find myself excusing too many of them, I go back(Change their colours) and look at them again. It can be as simple as deleting them or as complicated as rewriting a sentence or even paragraph. It’s worth it.

My advice about filter words
Find them and then find a better value than them. They are easy to find once you start looking and you will be better off without them.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Well colour me silly

Mercy

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3 thoughts on “Filtering Out Those Filter Words

    1. haha, it’s a bit out of context, she’s actually talking about him bringing home a girl she doesn’t approve of. But a stray is a stray, human or animal and it still applies 😉

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