When I found myself unable to find a relevant topic for this week’s blog post and decided now was the time to write about nothing in particular did this, rather clever, topic hit me squarely between the eyes. See what I did there? No? Look again. Still not sure? Then this week I’m talking about the dos and don’ts of fillers. Naturally we will start with the question of what is a filler, what is its use and the pros and cons of using them, when and where. Let’s do this.
Fillers – are words or phrases inserted into a sentence which have no use other than to make the sentence flowery, or add a little more detail. They are much more common in full length novels and older works, but you will rarely see them in fast-paced novellas or thrillers.
Fillers are used in a whole variety of ways to give your reader time to immerse themselves in your scene from more than just the passer by point of view. Even in language we use terms, such as ‘like’, and ‘y’know’, all used in a way that does not convey their inherent meaning; but these examples only apply to oral language, great for when you want to write speech, but not literature around it.
In a simple sentence you may often see a filler in between two commas, for example ‘Mike’s ball, which was red, flew out of the park with a single swing of his leg’. The filler here being ‘which was red’ it isn’t essential to our understanding of events, but also ‘single’ it was not essential to the clause either. For those who have studied English at a higher level, it’s all a case of –spot that non-essential clause.
Moving on, we now know what a filler is and why we use it, now when and how to use them, that is their pros and cons are our next focus. Fillers are really useful in chapters where you, as the writer, want to slow down the pace of the story and give the reader time to catch up with evens and deliver some more complex information. The idea of sentences including fillers is, that they are rarely contained to what we call ‘simple sentences’ that is a sentence with one verb and one noun, not strictly true, but it’s less common.
If you want to write good action, or good horror, that leaves the reader reeling from every blow you inflict, and each limb you sever, you must remember the golden rule of these genres and scenes. Simple sentences win. Your aim in these scenes is to contain any action to a simple sentence for maximum speed and impact, that way you are able to reflect on events later in each gruesome detail; we will talk more about these genres another time.
Final note on this topic, do not abuse the filler, and avoid overuse like the plague. Common filler errors; unless you write in an older style, eliminate 90% of the words like, seemed and was. If it is like something, then show it, nothing ‘seems’ like something, it is or it is not! And was is too passive, make things active. More on some of these again another day
Until next time; read, write live.
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