Filtering Filter Words

Filtering filter words post

Filtering Filter Words

Oh, those pesky Filter words. I talk about them a lot and for a good reason as I discussed in Filtering Out Those Filter WordsIt’s really very unnecessary and I’m ‘that’ kind of writer. Filter words are words that can easily be filtered out because they don’t have a significant impact on the sentence. They are crutch words that can make a sentence lazy, repetitive or even boring.

I will go through a story using the “search and replace” feature to highlight all the filter words in various colors as I mentioned in Well, color me silly.

Along with filter words I include are all ending in ING and all adverbs ending in LY. I also include exclamation points ! and question marks ?. Adverbs weaken sentences that have much more potential. I highlight ! because people don’t yell nearly as, much as they might be written to shout. Also, I try to limit the amount of rhetorical or narrative questions. In dialogue, they are fine, but I try not to pepper too many into the narrative.

So what are they? I have a long list of words that I have compiled over the years. Words that I tend to stick to sentences instead of better words. I lean on some more than others. Here they are listed in alphabetical order with the number of incidences that occurred for each within a book I’m currently re-writing, editing and revising. I like to multitask on the first modification of the first draft. The book is only 30,627 words, so these numbers are not too bad. I am looking to beef this story up and add a lot more words, but I don’t want the filter words etc. to drag the story down.

868      ing
566      was
421      ?
403      ly
343      that
174      is
158      But
152      up
145      know
145      said
113      look
109      can
108      hand
90       see
89       just
88       could
70       remember
62       think
61       head
60       eyes
59       Then
53       feel
52       very
50       ask
49       smile
49       than
46       !
46       hear
45       turn
43       down
43       move
40       been
36       – single dash
31       face
31       walk
29       try
28       well
27       bit or a bit
21       felt
21       knew
19       Really
19       saw
18       breath
18       understand
17       guess
17      reach
17       sigh
16       tried
15       touch
14       seem
14       sound
13       nod
12       grab
12       wonder
11       stare
11       watch
9        shrug
8        taste
7        realize
7        stand
6        hale (inhale exhale)
5        frown
5        somehow
4        able to
4        says
3        blink
3        however
3        notice
2        quite
2        replied
2        somewhat
1        ;
1        decide
1        experience
0        …
0        note
0        rather

Does this mean I get rid of them all? No. I will sometimes set a goal of say 50% or 75%. Depending on the word I may want to eliminate them 100%. It honestly depends on the word and how it’s used.

As you see some of those words had Zero incidences. That’s because I’ve learned. For them, they will probably stay put. I will take a look to make sure the sentence is good, but I’m not worried for any that are less than ten or zero.

The top five will always be the biggest offenders. The top ten are still the top ten. The next ten to twenty are worth taking a good look at.

I bet you’re wondering why “WAS” is up there? Voicing. Often I write WAS and IS interchangeable. I try not to do that. What I prefer to use is “IS” whenever possible. If I want WAS then I use it whenever possible. This is of course primarily for narrative, in dialogue the rules are different. I will try to keep a character consistent in their voice.

Action words such as, LOOK, SEE, TOUCH, SHRUG, SMILE, FROWN, NOD, etc. will be looked at carefully. There are better ways to describe actions and to show emotions too. These words are often found in sentences that TELL instead of SHOW.

If nothing more, I highly recommend looking at my top twenty. If you have a beta reader or if you use the feature on your word program to read your text back to you(This is awesome for finding small errors and sentence flow issues) If you use them you will notice words that you rely on too much. They may be on this list or they may not. But if you have words that appear more often than they should, it can put a reader off.

I keep track of the numbers for my own personal use. I will make a spreadsheet with the numbers from the first draft and recheck them (using the find feature) for each consequential edit or revise until I’m happy with the number of them I see.

My advice about Filter words
Find and destroy! Actually highlight them before you start editing or revising using the search and replace feature, then find a better way to write the sentence or find a better more valuable word. 

Don’t forget to check out and follow the Daily Word Prompt I host.Your Daily click

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/11/your-daily-word-prompt-multitask-september-11th-2018/

A Little Conversation Please

A Little Conversation Please

Dialogue and conversation in a book can be tricky. I happen to love dialogue and can appreciate good conversation. I talk about talking a lot. It’s important for a story to have good, believable dialogue.

There is a balance, however. Too much talk sounds unreal it can make a reader think too much or too little.  To little can leave readers bored. Dialogue is also not stationary. People don’t sit perfectly still while talking. They are always doing something. I know when I read if there is too much poof in a sentence and nothing happening I get uncomfortable and close the book. The idea of turning off a reader churns my stomach and makes me want to try harder.

Here is what too much talk in dialogue looks like.

“This looks great Tony, you did a marvellous job barbequing. You put so much effort into getting the steaks just perfect and the way I like them the best. I find that charming and sweet.”

“Anything for you Anne. You work so hard, and I know you don’t have time to do this yourself. So when I can cook for you, I do enjoy doing so.”

“Mmm, it really is perfect. I’m glad you told me what wine to pick up. I don’t know a rose from a white from a sparkling.. whatever.”

“The right wine does complement the food for certain. I know how much you love wine even if you rarely partake.”

“You do know me well.”

Soooooo…. yeah. Nothing happened, but a lot should have or did? I cant tell really because all I did was have some superfluous static conversation.

Let’s add some action tags and maybe a dialogue tag.

Tony sat across from Anne as she shuffled her chair closer to the table. “This looks great Tony, you did a marvellous job barbecuing. You put so much effort into getting the steaks just perfect and the way I like them the best. I find that charming and sweet.” She said and cut a morsel free with a sharp steak knife. 

“Anything for you Anne. You work so hard, and I know you don’t have time to do this yourself. So when I can cook for you, I do enjoy doing so.” Tony smiled and ate a mouthful. 

Anne set her fork down, swallowed and picked up her wineglass. “Mmm, it really is perfect. I’m glad you told me what wine to pick up. I don’t know a rose from a white from a sparkling.. whatever.” She said and clinked her glass with Tony’s as he held it out. 

“The right wine does complement the food for certain. I know how much you love wine even if you rarely partake.” Tony sipped and set his glass down. 
“You do know me well.” 

A bit better. Now they’re not statues. But the dialogue is so… poofy and weird for a couple. Most of that could go into a meaningful narrative or better word choices.

The narrative should be kept in the same tense from start to finish. That is if you start in the first person, keep it that way. No shifting perspectives. Now I’ll take that and add some narrative to set the scene and add some introspective to lighten the conversation load.

Tony sat across from Anne as she shuffled her chair closer to the table. When he had time, Tony preferred to barbeque a good steak and knows how Anne likes hers done. Any little thing he could do to ease her stress from work and put a smile on her face was worth it.

“This looks great,”  She said with a grin and cut a morsel free with a sharp steak knife. 

“You deserve a break.” Tony smiled and ate a mouthful.

Anne set her fork down, swallowed and picked up her wineglass. “Mmm, it’s perfect as usual Thank you. Speaking of perfect, the clerk at the store thought it was hilarious that you sent me a picture of what wine to get. We had a good chuckle that I’m wine-dumb.”

Tony held out his glass, they clinked, smiled, and both sipped generously. 

“I just didn’t want a sparkling pear concoction like you got last time.” He said and stifled a chuckle. “For someone that loves wine as much as you do it’s funny that you select purely on how cute the label is.” He blew her a kiss over the table. “While adorable it’s not a good pare with steak.” Tony sipped and set his glass down. 

“You do know me well.” Anne giggled behind her hand before cutting another bite of steak. 

So by taking out the unnecessary and unnatural dialogue, I put it into more condensed words and eased it into narrative outside the conversation. I also put some story into the dialogue to make it sound like they are talking about their day and not just each other. A couple isn’t likely to sit and complement the other gregariously.

When I write a block of dialogue and someones not giving a speech I cringe. I’ll edit, revise and revisit that chunk until I have what feels like a realistic scene. There are times when I write, and I neglect the setting, interactions in the setting and action tags. It’s important that a cement block of conversation be broken until it flows like a pure spring water creek. I personally wouldn’t be done with that last edit. I would go back and make sure each character’s personality shines and maybe set the scene with some narrative at the beginning outlining how stressed and tired Anne is, perhaps why. For simplicity, I kept the example short.

In Prophecy Ink when I edit and revise, I look for long strings of stale conversation. Sometimes its simple dialogue or complex. Either way, it needs the support of narrative, action and dialogue tags and descriptives. Even if talking on a phone a person can sigh, scratch a neck or pace.

My advice about Conversation.

It’s easy to plunk down the conversation to keep the story going. If it’s distracting to add the tags and narrative or actions do, it afterwards. That’s the magic of revision and rewriting. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved

Churn

Don’t talk like me!

So I’m a newbie writer. By that I mean I haven’t been writing seriously for long. I’m bound to make mistakes, everyone is. One that I have to keep my eye on is writing individual dialogue. It is super-duper easy to write individual characters talking all the same… as I talk. For narrative it’s totally fine but characters, need their own voice. Even with the best of intentions I find it easy to forget the little things that keep that character unique.

So what do I do about it? I refer to my character bio’s often, where I keep specific details on each individual. I establish a clear voice in my head of how each person sounds. How they contract certain words, what jargon they use. Do they say yes or yeah. No or na. It doesn’t have to be a lot of differences for every character, but one or two distinct variations.

Here are some ways to make a character speak distinctly from others. (*Extreme suggestions should really be limited to one character)

  • Never contracts words*
  • Uses old-fashioned words such as indubitably, propitious and quiescent *
  • Says um or ah from time to time
  • Uses pauses for dramatic effect
  • Says Yes only or often uses Yeah
  • Uses similes all the time
  • Constantly uses metaphors
  • Never stops with puns(Must be well done and fit the scenario)
  • Jargon junkie
  • Says the word Like, like all the time.
  • Uses nicknames
  • Uses local dialect
  • Never swears (Could be cute about substituting “Holy Christmas that’s loud!”
  • Swears often or has a favorite swear word they use like a noun.
  • Calls everyone dear or hun
  • Geographical slang such as Y’all or Eh.

This list can go on and on. The point is to give each character a vocal quirk to make them unique from my own way of speaking. Now if you use a phrase or a character has a very unique verbal quirk, it’s fun to have someone else pick it up. As long as they or someone else point it out for fun. It needs to be addressed in a humorous way for it to make sense to the reader.

“Listen up everyone.” Terry waited for everyone’s attention. Scott clenched his jaw and forced himself not to groan. Amber bit her lip and looked at her newly fascinating pen. This was going to be a boring meeting.
Terry straightened his tie before continuing. “As you two are abundantly aware we are competing with Laverne and Associates to win the contract for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”
Dale rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “You can just say RCMP.”
In Dale’s opinion Terry wasn’t the right designer for this high-profile project. Sasha should  be heading up this one or Scott. Dale let Valery know he wasn’t thrilled to be working with Terry.
“No I cannot.”
“Tight-ass Terry will sink this project faster than the titanic.” Dale muttered to Amber and she snickered behind her hand.
“Do you have something to say Dale?”
“Nope.” Dale cracked his neck from side to side. “Go on, dazzle us with your recycled ideas.”
Terry narrowed his eyes and clenched his jaw; this was the worst possible team.

Dale is a ‘Nope’ kind of guy because he’s brash, rude and often insubordinate. He uses it often but not to people he likes. Terry, well he’s the pompous blowhard unaware he has little talent of his own. He’s disrespected, so uses big words and speaks in what he perceives to be smart.

My advice about character dialogue quirks.
It is extremely important for your character to stand out from the others and the narrative. Even if it’s just a little. Put thought into it and if the character is from a region you’re not familiar with do some research to find out if there is a local dialect or saying used. 

-Sheryl

Other posts:
Oops! What did I just say?

It’s really very unnecessary

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