Posted on 07/07/2019 at 12:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

If you’re developing any sort of self-editing checklist, Louise Harnby has a new entry for you: filter words.

Filter words are any words that put distance between what a character is experiencing and a reader, by reminding the latter that they’re an outsider.

Among the examples Harnby shared are notice, seem, spot, see, realize, feel, think, wonder, believe, know, and decide.

So basically, when Harnby seems to dislike filter words, you're being reminded that you and Harnby are separate people — but when Harnby dislikes filter words, that difference is more subtle.

These aren’t a hard-and-fast no, like using phonetic spellings for accents in dialogue, but rather a tool that can be wielded skillfully ... or heavy-handedly.

Check out Harnby’s case studies of how removing filter words can strengthen your writing — and how adding them judiciously can do the same.

Categories: Behind the scenes

Tagged As: Editing, Writing advice

Comments
I have a list of filters I use Word search to find and eliminate. I consider filter words crutches. The line is so weak I added crutches to get thru it. REWRITE the line. After searching for filter words several times, I find I no longer add them in the first draft.
Frank Kelso | 07/19/2019 at 08:22 AM
Add Comment

* Indicates a required field