Adirondack Editing - Removing Filter Words

This is one of a series of editing posts by Susan Uttendorfsky featured on The Story Reading Ape.

Adirondack Editing

Removing Filter Words

Filter words are placed between your character and the action. 

Generally, they are added to a sentence when trying to describe something that your character is experiencing or thinking. While, as usual, there’s a place for them in writing, you can tighten up your scenes immensely when they’re removed. It’s another tidbit for helping you show, rather than tell, as without the filter words, you’re forced to add more description to get what you mean across.

What are some filter words? 

Felt, realized, saw, wondered, seemed, decided, heard, knew, touched, watched, and can are some of the more common ones. You can search the Internet for other lists of filtering words. Cutting away your filtering words and forcing yourself to write without them results in more vivid scenes. Here are some sentence examples of filter words:

  • She remembered him kissing her at their wedding. 
  • She felt relieved when he broke their date. 
  • I heard a noise in the basement. 
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