Posted in Editing

Filler Words

Those pesky filler words don’t need to be there. Get them out of your writing. You just don’t need them. They only serve to take away from and weaken your story. If you think you even need them, think again. We always think we know best. Trust me, we don’t.

The above paragraph has filler words in them. They’re the ones in bold face print. I put them in there on purpose to prove a point. To prove my point, I’m going to retype it and take them out. You’ll see how much better it sounds.

Those pesky filler words don’t need to be there. Get them out of your writing. You don’t need them. They serve to take away from and weaken your story. If you think you need them, think again. We think we know best. Trust me, we don’t.

Sometimes you will need to use them. After all, they are part of the English language and they are there for a reason. The problem is we tend to use them to much. When they’re used too much, that’s when they weaken your writing. When I was editing my novel The Triunix of Time, I had a list of these words to look for in my story. I went through my book and looked for each one of them one at a time and checked them off as I finished with one, then I went on to the next. Don’t worry, I used the Find option in Microsoft Word. It found them all in an instant. As it turned out, I initially used the word just 350 times. Talk about over use. Please see the grid below for a list of the most used filler words.

Editing Notes: A Filler Word Extravaganza | elena johansen

So, how do you know you need to use them? Say the sentence without the filler word in it. If it still makes sense, you don’t need it.

If you have any questions please feel free to message or email me. I enjoy helping others with their writing.

Posted in Fiction

Writing Struggles

For fiction writers everywhere:

No matter where we are on our writing journey, there is something we all struggle with. Whether it’s one thing or a compilation of a few things, it’s there sticking up out of nowhere. Recently, one of my followers on Twitter posed this question. What do you struggle with in your writing? I couldn’t honestly answer this question because I don’t usually struggle with any one thing in particular, and what I struggle with varies at different points in my writing. What do you do with it? How do you work with it?

Sometimes the problem has to do with not knowing when you should use dialogue and when you shouldn’t. I don’t think there is any one right answer for this. I use dialogue when the story calls for it. When I am writing I get this ‘itch’. This ‘itch’ is a strong feeling dialogue is needed or description or exposition is called for. For me it’s a feeling of just knowing. This doesn’t mean I am right every time. I do go back and realize later that I need to cut back on something. That’s okay. It really is up to you as the author when you use a device and when you don’t. It’s your story.

Character arc is another big one. How are we going to show our protagonists growth from beginning to end? Yes. Yes. This is huge. To make the story and your character believable there needs to be growth in this character from beginning to end. What in the story itself causes your protagonist’s grow? The story movement depends on how your character acts, reacts, makes choices, etc… Are your characters afraid and unsure of themselves from beginning to end? I hope not. They may be apprehensive at the beginning, but by the end of the story they should be braver or brave enough to bring down the antagonist. Larry Brooks, in his book Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing devotes a whole part to character. In fact it’s number 2 out of the 6 core competencies. I highly recommend this book.