Filler Words

Last time we talked about filler, so this week I thought we could cover a related subject, filler words. These are words that add to our word count, but detract from our story. These words are often vague, general, or redundant as well as being unnecessary. So let’s take a look at some common culprits.

  • This is a crutch word we rely on, but it takes away more than it adds. Instead of very, choose a stronger word. Instead of very tired, use exhausted. Instead of very hungry, use famished. Instead of very pretty, use gorgeous or exquisite. You get the picture.
  • So and really. Like very, so and really are meant to emphasize, but they don’t add much to a sentence. Use a stronger word instead.
  • Just. This word implies a lack of confidence in what you’re saying. Avoid.
  • Like, actually, basically, and other words that serve as verbal ticks. Just as we say “umm” when talking, these words can slip into our writing. But they don’t add anything, so cut the fat and delete them.
  • Most of the time that can be deleted from your sentences without changing the meaning. If that’s the case, keep it out. If not, like in the previous sentence, you can keep it in.
  • Almost and seemed. Don’t waffle in what you’re trying to say. Don’t be vague, be clear. Either it is something or it isn’t. Don’t use almost or seemed.
  • Same goes for maybe, somehow, and something. Be clear.
  • Redundant prepositions like up in stood up. You can only go up when you stand, so just say stood. Same for sat down. Keep an eye on these redundant words.

When you are editing, do a pass for these filler words. Use the control F feature to find and fix them. Do this in later passes when you’re closer to polishing your words rather than early on when you’re doing big revisions. As you fix them in edits, you’ll get better at catching them while you’re writing. What filler words are you guilty of using? Share below and happy writing!

Julia

Find me on Twitter and Facebook for weekly writing prompts.

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