Filter Words

As always there was a wealth of good advice at the meeting. It can make it very hard to choose what to write about in these ‘meeting takeaway’ posts. This month I’d like to talk about filter words.

Filter words are quite nefarious, as they can seem like they’re drawing the reader into the story when actually they’re putting an extra layer between the reader and the experience.  That bit of distance is – strangely enough – the character.

For example:

“He felt the snow gather on the back of his collar” vs “The snow gathered on the back of his collar”


“She wondered how to avoid it” vs “It seemed unavoidable”

The first sentence is telling the reader what the character is feeling or experiencing, whereas the second sentence is letting the reader feel it directly, without putting the filter of the character’s mind between the reader and the experience. It puts you right inside of the characters body.

If you’re wanting deep POV, truly immersive writing steer clear of filter words like: thought, wondered, saw, heard, noticed, felt.

Why not open up your manuscript and use the ‘search’ or ‘find a word’ function and see how many results you get for each one of those filter words? You might be surprised at how many there are. But don’t despair, you’ve diagnosed the problem, you know the solution, and rewriting/revision is just as important a part of writing as the first draft. Go forth and revise!

About Kirstie Olley

Kirstie Olley was the President of Vision Writers Group during 2015-2018, has had ten short stories published since joining the group in 2012, has been a finalist in the Aurealis Awards and received multiple honourable mentions in the Writers Of The Future contest. She also blogs and has free fiction at her website
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