Blog The Writing Process Kill Your Filler Words

Kill Your Filler Words


Your piece of writing isn’t flowing. The sharpness you had hoped for isn’t there. Time then to look at filler words, those little pieces that slip unnoticed into our writing.

  1. Common Filler Words
  2. Take Out the Filler

Common Filler Words

Compare the following two sentences:

  • He told her that he had gone to town.
  • He told her he had gone to town.

In the first sentence the offending “that” rears its head and interrupts the flow of the sentence.

The second sentence flows smoothly because “that” has been removed.

Now imagine that every second or third sentence was a victim of “that.” Not only would the flow of your written words become clumsy, but the repetition would jar on the reader’s mind.

How to fix this uninentional jarring? The answer to your problem is to go through your manuscript and replace "that” with a more suitable word (or, even better, with nothing at all).

Many filler words creep into your writing because of everyday conversational use. “That” is not the only offender where tight, clear writing is concerned.

Compare “He was just going to town" with “He was going to town.” Notice how “just” serves no purpose in the first sentence. Time to eliminate it!

Can “very” be replaced or eliminated in the following sentence?

  • “I was very tired.”

In this example, simply “I was tired” may do. You could also use an adjective if you want to indicate extreme tiredness: “I was exhausted.”

“Absolutely” and “really” are other examples of filler words that are going nowhere. "He really liked her." isn't any stronger than "He liked her."

Take Out the Filler

When editing your piece, use an editing tool to flag the filler, then go back and take it out. You need fewer words than you think. Your readers will thank you for it.

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Liz is a freelance writer and English teacher. Living in Ireland she has ventured into the self-publishing world posting her first novel on Amazon in January. She is a self professed grammar and spelling fiend. When not writing she can be found reading and caring for her family.

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