Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo ... getting stuffed on filler and filter words

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? 


  1. I have some similar habits. I use crutch words like lean and gaze, as you know. I also use a ton of dialogue and don't really describe stuff... gotta love NaNo!!!

  2. I do the same thing. Like Erica, I tend to go overboard with gazes. And "feeling" things... she felt her heart leap rather than, her heart leapt-- great example about writing without a filter!

    Nice post, as always. :)