• victoriamccombs

Removing these words will make your writing stronger!

I came across this writing tip two weeks ago and it's completely transformed my writing! I've said it before and I'll say it until I die, the difference between a new writer and an experienced one is how they structure their sentences. That's what I'm obsessed with, finding the right order for the right words to make them beautiful, uninterrupted, and easy to read.


This advice helps with that. A lot.


Just as it transformed my writing, it can transform yours, and it's as simple as removing filter words from your novel.


What's a filter word, you ask? I didn't know either.


These are words or phrases that remind the reader they are OBSERVING the story, not LIVING in it. As authors, we want to dunk the reader in our tale, but these words jolt them back out.


Saw.


Thought.


Believed.


These are filter words that can be taken out and your story will be better for it. By saying these, you remind the reader that everything they see or hear or touch is through a filter. Here's some examples of why this happens:


'I saw the dragon descend from the turret.' The use of the filter words force your reader to see the dragon through the character eyes instead of their own. The action of that sentence was not that the dragon flew, but that the character saw; and that's a much weaker action. Instead, just say 'The dragon descended from the turret.'


In the same manner: 'I felt his heart pounding beneath my palm.'

Now write it as, 'His heart pounded beneath my palm.'


Especially if you write in first person, this will be an easy trap to fall into. We can assume that your character sees and hears and feels these things. Stick to the action and eradicate the constant pronouns that clutter the page by cutting out these filter words.


Let's do a few more examples.

'I heard a noise in the hallway.'

'A noise echoes in the hallway.'


'I think Tarion will be there.'

'Tarion should be there.'


'He remembered dancing in the moonlit woods.'

'He had danced in the moonlit woods.'


This won't always make the sentence stronger. If your character has been blindfolded, for example, it adds strength to say 'I felt the cold stone walls as I stumbled forward, and felt the sudden cool air turn up the hair on my arms.' These remind us that the character is blindfolded, without actually saying it again.


An easy way to catch these is look for how often you start your sentences with the word I, or, if you write in third person, the character's name. This is one of my biggest downfalls right now as I writer, the constant use of relaying information through my character instead of letting it flow naturally onto the pages and straight to the readers.


Remove your filter words, and focus on the actions happening so we feel immersed in a world separate from what your character feels or hears. Let us experience your vivid writing!


You'll do great! Best wishes!

-Victoria McCombs

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