1. namin010
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    namin010 Member

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    Filter words

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by namin010, Jun 28, 2016.

    Three weeks ago I set a goal to write a book with the intention to finish it no matter how much it sucked. My main goal was to fight my perfectionism because otherwise I'll never be able to write anything. But now that I'm writing a story that I love, I can't just let it suck xD

    Until now I've written around 10'000 words, which may seem very little, but to me that in the past I never got past 3 or 4 pages it's a great achievement. The problem is that as I write I keep noticing things that I'm doing wrong and some of them are easy to fix, but others are not.

    A couple of days ago I realized what was one of the things bugging me about my writing: filter words. I had never heard about it before but now that I have all that I see in my writing are filter words, filter words... In the past couple of days I've spent hours trying to edit them out, but sometimes I just can't find a substitute sentence that fits and it makes my brain hurt and I can't think and it makes me depressed. I can't go on writing because now I'm too aware that I'm using filter words and I can't stop thinking it sucks too much and if I try to make it better I get stucked.

    Is there any kind of exercise to practice this? Or does anyone have any tips to learn how to write without using filter words in almost every sentence?
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I write in deep third so I'm usually trying to stay in the characters shoes all the time. It changes my mindset a bit in the way I go about giving the information
    instead of -
    David saw Angela approach him and looked for a place to hide. - Saw being the filter.
    I write something like -
    Oh, damn. Here comes Angela on the warpath again. David wondered if he'd fit under his desk - a juvenile move but he'd risk it.

    The first sentence keeps the writer in the mindset of showing the reader what is going on - what the writer is seeing. I see David seeing Angela approach. And this is not a problem until it becomes a problem. I.e. if you're using it too much. If you want to go deeper step into the mc's shoes. He doesn't need to tell anybody he sees Angela approach - either drop the David saw - Angela approached with an angry look on her face - or dive into what he's feeling.

    When you walk into a library you don't think I see books, or children playing mindcraft on the computers. You already know you see them. You're thoughts are already in motion. Jump into relevant information - He'd have to wait for a computer they were all taken with children playing minecraft and older people playing Jewelquest.

    If you want to practice it take a notepad with you and sit in a coffee shop, restaurant, or park and write down your observations and peoples actions. Use your five senses. Then take what you observed and make a small paragraph with it eliminating the filter words. Instead of I smell cinnamon coffee - you could start with - the scent of coffee - did what? - what does it make you feel, or remind you of or inspire.
     
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  3. namin010
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    namin010 Member

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    Thanks a lot! That's really helpful, I think I need to practice a lot more until I get used to it.

    I find it easier in situations where a character is interacting with its surroundings or with other people, but when it comes a part when the character it's just thinking or remembering something I find it really hard not to use filtering. Most of the things I try sound weird and unnatural...
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can't take things to extremes. If you want to write in close POV, avoid most filter words most of the time. But there are times when filter words are absolutely necessary, and when, I would argue, they aren't filters at all.

    You mention remembering something. In that situation, I would say that "he remembered" or some version of it isn't really a filter, because it's the action that's currently going on, the action you're trying to describe. It's kind of like passive voice - you avoid it most of the time, but sometimes you want to de-emphasize the actor in favour of the acted upon; sometimes you want to de-emphasize the content in favour of the character's experience of the content.

    He sipped the drink; it was bitter.

    vs.

    He sipped the drink; it tasted bitter.​

    There are times when you want to emphasize the bitterness, times you want to emphasize the act of tasting.
     
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