Filtering Filter Words From Your Story

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Something I’ve been working hard at in my writing is getting rid of filter words. Filtering is using words that put space between the reader and the protagonist to remove you a step from the point of view. Think of words that are basically internal sensations or ways that you would connect to the external world, words like thought, felt, saw, heard or realized.  They may keep the reader from connecting with your protagonist.

Not a big deal to include these in your first draft, but you need to look for them on the editing phases.

They should only be used when they are critical to understanding the sentence. Notice I used “should.” There are no hard, fast rules when it comes to writing, but you take a risk of pushing your reader back a step or slowing down and possibly even pulling them out of the text so it feels more like reading instead of experiencing the story. It might be that you want to add in a few syllables for pace or poetic use, but you need to understand the risk you are taking. Sometimes you can simply move the offending word into dialogue.

For example:

Tom had the impression that it was reaching out for them.

It seemed to reach out to Tom.

Or with dialogue: “Is that thing reaching out to us?”

Hopefully that gives you the idea. It can be quite insidious. I find myself doing it all the time. See? I did it right there.