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NaNoWriMo Update Day 14 . . .I’m getting stuffed on filler and filter words

Monday, 14 November 2011  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

It’s day fourteen of NaNoWriMo and I’m a bit behind. I’m working hard to get the word count back up to goal. I lost a couple of days due to family time. What I’m noticing after I write, and look back at what I’ve put on the page, is the use of filler and filter words. So many. I’m not worrying about them right now, I’ll remove them during revisions.
Here’s a few examples of the filler words I’m seeing in my work…
  • uh
  • you know
  • well
  • um
  • so
  • like
  • to look
  • to walk
Filter words–words that show us how the world is filtered through the character’s view–look like this…
  • to be
  • to hear
  • to see
  • to smell
  • to touch
  • to know
  • to think
Here’s an example from my NaNoWriMo project …
With filter: I heard a gasp slip from Hudson. “What’s happening?”
Without filter: Hudson gasped. “What’s happening?”
If your character is seeing or hearing the action first and then the action happens, the action is being filtered through your character. This is show instead of tell. Of course, I’ll be editing those out during revisions too. I try not to use them in the first draft, but writing a draft in a month, things are going to go bad. Very bad. Not to mention, my verbs are being supported by adverbs because they’re so weak they need a crutch.
The magic happens during revision. Plus, using filter words certainly does add to my word count. Not only that, but they are there so that when I revise, I know what I was trying to describe. It’s during the revision, when I’m not as rushed, that I’ll find the perfect, magical word that can replace my bad writing. It’s called a verb.

So what habits do you notice you do while writing your first drafts? 

Filed: Misc

  • This may sound really sad but my biggest problem is not adding enough filler words. Stupid right? I’m often told to add more details because I only add what is needed and rarely beyond that but sometimes the reader wants to know more.

  • Oh there’s no doubt it’s a mess right now. But that’s what first drafts are all about, right? LOL

  • Charmaine says:

    was, didn’t, couldn’t wouldn’t
    and … and — and ands.

  • Normally my first drafts are really sparse, but for NaNo I’ve let go and I’m letting much more of the main character’s thoughts and feelings come out on the page. We’ll see how much of that gets cut, and which words I use as crutches for this draft (I’ve already noticed I keep using gulped).

  • I’m an underwriter too. I’m constantly fleshing out scenes in revisions and adding details. And getting rid of filler words too!

  • Kris Atkins says:

    Oh man, I used to do that all the time! Then my professor pointed it out and the way he put it made me laugh. “We’re watching Protag look at Dude-Face.” I still slip into it on occasion, but usually find it during revisions.

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