Filler Words: They Are Not Needed

When I was writing my first book I didn’t know a lot about filler words. When my editor mentioned filler word my reaction was huh? Filler words what the heck? She went on to explain that they are words that aren’t needed, the sentence will still make sense if you take those particular words away. She marked a few in my book to show me what she meant and some articles to read. I didn’t realize this was a thing in writing! I mean did it really matter if I through in a like or seriously into my writing? Was it really that big of a deal? Would my readers truly care? Turns out it is a big deal and they do care! It takes them out of the story and often leads to telling instead of showing.

Look at how I am able to take the word like out of the following sentence and it still works, “Charity opened the door and it felt like a breeze moved past her.” “Charity opened and the door and a breeze moved past her” Now, here I am still telling instead of showing but the point is to show you that the word like wasn’t needed. It was simply a filler word. I’m going to share with you a list of words that aren’t really needed in a sentence. What you still write will make sense without them, really these words are used to add to word count. I have found myself doing it and having to go back to eliminate them.

Like- we just talked about this one. If I said, “There are like ten chickens over there!” I’m sure many people would wonder why I even added it. I could easily say “There are ten chickens over there!” It would still mean the same thing and I won’t have an added unnecessary word. I dislike when like is overused when someone is speaking. It pulls me from the conversation and I start thinking about other things. I wouldn’t want to read it over and over when it’s not needed.

Very- is used to express the quality of something. Example, “That milkshake was very good.” I could easily say “That milkshake was good.” My point would still be made right? It doesn’t add anything to the sentence, the reader is going to know something is good, fine, tasty etc without it. I’m not going to lie the word very still made it into my first book and I’m sure it might slip in once or twice in my other books but I’m going to make an effort to eliminate it as much as I can. It is pretty just a useless word!

Pretty- So I hope this one is kind of self-explanatory but I will give an example just to show why it’s a filler word. “We were pretty close to the fire when it started.” This to me is one of the worst filler words. I use it when speaking and now it drives me nuts when I catch myself doing it! Seriously, how can you be pretty close to something? You are either close or far not pretty close or pretty far. Lets, try that sentence without pretty. “We were close to the fire when it started.” See, makes sense. I know a lot of people use pretty the way it was in the sentence but it is by far the most unnecessary word! It really doesn’t make sense if you think about it!

Just- You don’t need it! Literally don’t even need it! “I was just going to the store to by milk.” I was going to the store to by milk.” Just is a word that rarely ever needs to be used in the above context. I know people use it a lot when speaking but remember we are talking about writing here. Most of your readers are going to see it for what it is, a word that never needed to be added. Almost every sentence is going to make sense without the word just. I find myself adding it when I want to up my word count when I’m close to finishing. That is bad very bad, I am working on omitting it from my writing list. Avoid using it at all cost.

These are only a few of the many filler words that can hurt your writing, you would be doing yourself a huge favor by learning all the fillers words and working on using them sparingly or not at all. This will help your writing and make your story more enjoyable to read. I can hear the question now, but aren’t we suppose to have our characters talk like we actually do? Yes, your dialog should seem believable but you can do that without overusing filler words. I don’t know a lot of people who go around saying like, literally, totally or very too many times in a row. There’s nothing wrong if you use these word a lot but don’t do it in your writing. It gets repetitive and weakens your writing. Go read a book by your favorite author and you’ll see they don’t have these use these word very often if at all.

I hope this short list is helpful to you and you take the time to learn the other filler words. It should help you write better. I keep a list handy for times I get the urge to use one, it’s my own way of reminding myself not to.

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4 Comments on "Filler Words: They Are Not Needed"

    I didn’t know about these words either. Some of them I prefer because they lend to the experience of the words and the image in my mind that it conjures up. Some are not needed. I will have to think about this when I am writing.

    I am not as worried about them in my blog writing but when writing my books I’m a bit more mindful. I try to make talk normally but not with a lot of filler words. They creep in still though lol.

    I remember learning about these in college — especially “like” and “very”! I tend to write how I talk, so these words will pop up in my blog writing. I try not to stress too much if I’ve written something super personal, but if I’ve written something that is supposed to be helpful/informative then I’ll do what I can to take the fillers out.

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