Monday, August 31, 2015

Filler Words - Just Very Much in My Way

Sorry, Oscar, but adding an adverb to your sign won't make me think your food is more Mexican than anyone else's. If this is one of those things that got lost in the translation--like ordering from the Chinese quick food menu, then I apologize. Oscar should have checked with a writer.

"Very" is a filler word. Ha! My mind wanted to type: It's just a filler word. I could have used: It's an unnecessary filler word. (Could that be considered redundant?) But I would never want to use: It's a very unnecessary filler word. That example over modifies/describes/gives more info about a verb, adjective, or another adverb by doubling up on it. After all, writers are supposed to show the emphasis, not tell it.

In both my rough-draft writing and submissions from others, I've seen an excess of "just" and "even", especially in dialogue. Somehow it sounds more natural in dialogue, probably because we are used to hearing poor speech. 

Read the following sentences and see which you like better:
  • He even saw the dog run away. VS He saw the dog run away.
  • You just can't forget about it. VS You can't forget about it.
Do you really feel an emotional emphasis for the first one over the last? Probably not. Filler words add length, taking up valuable real estate (word count), and hinder the pacing. When readers find more than one on a page, it gets annoying. You can find lists of adverbs-to-avoid online. Do a find and search for these in your manuscript during revisions. 
What filler words do you hate?

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