Writing group

A Year of Writing Tips #13

Filler words!

Anyone who has done NaNoWriMo knows the importance of filler words, because hey, we need to make up that word count somehow. But the problem with filler words is that they can slow down the pace of your story.

I’m sure we all use some type of filler words. You know, the ones that add nothing to the sentence but you use them anyway. It’s how our brain operates, naturally thinking of the easiest terms before our inner editor manages to escape it’s cage and correct us.

Here are my top four filler words (that I use,) so you can keep an eye out when editing.

That

If a sentence still makes sense after removing that, then you don’t need it.

‘Didn’t you know that I hate tomatoes?’

becomes

‘Didn’t you know I hate tomatoes?’

 

Very

Very is the word you use when something is very large, or very small or very cold. It’s an emphasis word, but more than likely you can exchange it for a more foreful word: huge, tiny and freezing.

 

Then

Often used in story telling to show a series of events. Just like that 90% of the time you can delete it and the sentence still makes sense. Either that, or replace with and.

‘I looked in the mirror, then put on my coat, then left the house.’

becomes

‘I looked in the mirror, put on my coat and left the house.’

 

Thought (or wondered, or realised…)

I’m a sucker for using these. But the problem is, it takes your reader away from your protagonist. Keep inner dialogue squarely with your protagonist by rewording the sentences.

‘She thought it was a bad idea.’

becomes

‘It was a bad idea.’

 

Do you use any filler words in your writing? What are they, are how do you avoid using them?

 

Good thoughts and happy writing!

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