Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Writer's Tips: Filtering

Upon recently completing my first round of edits on HOUR OF MISCHIEF I feel compelled to blog about some of my writing weaknesses. It helps to know your writing weaknesses for future books. Then you can head them off at the pass. Today I'm going to talk about one weakness of mine in particular: filtering.

Don't know what that is? Well, filtering is a common problem, especially for people writing in first person. Take this normal sentence, "The dog ran." Simple and easy. Filtering adds a few unnecessary words to that. "I saw the dog run."

I think a lot of writers include filtering because it seems more intimate to their point of view character. It connects the character to the action. But we're already IN the character's head. We know they are the one seeing it. So it just adds extra bulk to the sentence that isn't needed. Cutting out the filtering actually brings us closer to the character because we aren't constantly reminded that they are the one telling the story.

How do you check for filtering in your manuscripts? I recommend using the lovely 'find' button in word and typing in various filtering phrases, including: I saw, I heard, I thought, I wondered, I believed etc. Chances are, you can cut most of these phrases out and it will leave you with an overall tighter manuscript.

I'll talk more about my writing weaknesses in future posts. In the mean time, what are some of the traps you fall into? Do you overuse certain words or indulge in passive voice? Let me know in the comments!

4 comments:

  1. Unnecessary prepositional phrases like to him, to her, to them, with him, with them, etc.

    As in:

    "The next morning, Louis scribbled out a hasty note to Professor Verdot requesting the honor of a meeting with him and was surprised to receive a reply the very next day."

    When it should be:
    "The next morning, Louis scribbled out a hasty note to Professor Verdot requesting the honor of a meeting and was surprised to receive a reply the very next day."

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    Replies
    1. Ah yes, I also struggle with sneaking too many prepositional phrases into my sentences. And with unnecessary words in general like 'that'. I have to be extra thorough on the read throughs to make sure I catch them all!

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  2. What weighting program do you prefer?

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  3. Thanks for the hot tip about the search feature. I have been using it, but hadn't stretched it out to include those phrases!

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