Bonnie Sparks Writes

…fiction and discusses editing, writing, mental illness, chronic conditions, bunnies, food, fitness, and geeky topics.

Writing: My Issue with Filler Words

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Writing FictionI like memes and I like writing, put them together and you get me waffling about writing. Writing fiction. Writing fiction with a pictures! Huzzah! Every now and again I’ll be sharing something involved with writing.

Keep an eye out for the other memes I’ve created in order to get myself blogging regularly – Editing Updates, Motley Monday, Workout Wednesday, Fucked up Friday, Music Monday, Foodie Friday, and What’s New Wednesday.

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I do not like filler words and phrases in stories. I have mentioned this dislike previously, but not the whys, so thought it was about time I expressed my reasons.

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Filler words can cause clunkiness, create a round-about way of getting to the point, and make you lose attention. The overuse of filler words can distract you and prevent sufficient tension build-up in a story. What reader wants that?

My awareness and attention to filler words has been a slow progression. Of course you notice them when you’re younger, words such as oh, um, ah, and like. I first noticed the use of them during speeches and since then have been unable to not pay attention. Like, like, like, like, like, just, like can drive you insane after a while, can’t it? It’s what I hear when I’m having a conversation with a filler-word lover. At first I can decipher what they’re saying, but after a while my brain latches on to those words and they’re all I can hear.

I’m well aware I use filler words myself. I’m yet to meet anyone who doesn’t. This blog post if full of filler words and it’s driving me a little crazy thinking about it. I won’t cut them all out though. Why? A few filler words don’t make much difference in blogging and talking to me, unless I’m having a conversation with a filler-word lover and notice my sporadic use of them. Then it’s all I can do not to smack my head against a wall. Overuse of filler words gives me a headache.

It’s worse now I notice filler words in stories and how detrimental they can be. Overuse of fillers not only makes someone sound unintelligent, but makes stories read as unintelligent. I think stories utilising the use of filler words are messy and they distract me so, so much.

Words like yet and as are the bane of my existence when I’m trying to immerse myself into a story. Yes, I will use them myself in blogging, but not my stories. They jar me. When I’m invested in a story, my brain has finally shut off from the real world, then I get hit by a yet… The fucker. I’ll take a deep breath and move on, but I’ll be wary afterwards. Once there’s the use of one dreaded filler word, what’s to say another one won’t pop up?

It’s one of my worst nightmares when it comes to reading. I have stopped reading stories overusing filler words. How can I follow along when a story is abundantly full of yet, as, such, because, suddenly? Don’t get me started on suddenly!

If you want to jar someone from reading your story then stick suddenly at the beginning of the sentence. That will do the trick! It’s not a good jarring either, it’s the type of I’m-going-to-surprise-you-shortly jarring, which leads to a I-can’t-foreshadow-or-surprise-for-shit let down.

Damn you filler words. Damn you.

When I’m reading I like to think about what bothers me vs. what pulls me in and I try my hardest to leave out, or include, those aspects in my stories. I also pay attention to what other readers have to say about word usage, cliches, and what drives them nuts in general. Filler words are part of that. Filler words have a place in stories, but only if used in the correct way. They fill space, they don’t make something of it.

Guess what I’m going to share next time? My filler word cut-list! Fun times. In the meantime, how do you feel about filler words?

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Author: Bonnie

Between a blogging addiction, hosting reading challenges, reviewing, writing novels, and overcoming a neuro-immune disease, Bonnie attempts to do as many awesome things as she can and has a good dose of daily bunny cuddles. She resides in Western Sydney with her rabbit, Winston.

2 thoughts on “Writing: My Issue with Filler Words

  1. Great post. I’ll admit that when writing conversation, sometimes I *try* to use a filler word. “Um…you’re standing on my foot.” Hopefully I’m not the bane of your existence.

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