Filter words act like a veil between the reader and the character
by Kathy Steinemann on Anne R. Allen site:
This article provides a list of writing filters, with practical examples of how to replace them. You’ll also find exercises that can double as story prompts.
All words exist for a reason. Use them wisely to create engaging narrative.
Why the fuss?
Filter words form a barrier that distances readers from a story.
Bertie felt the warm sand between her toes as she walked.
Bertie’s experience is relayed secondhand. When word economy is critical, this approach works. However, wouldn’t you rather become so involved that you almost feel it yourself?
With a few tweaks, we can strengthen the sentence.
The sand trickled between Bertie’s toes, radiating warmth with every step she took.
Strong verbs, trickled and radiating, amplify the sensory impact.
Five senses? Six? Twelve?
Most people can name five senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Add ESP to the list, and it grows to six.
Some pundits expand to include pain, balance, motion, sense of time, temperature, and sense of direction. You might even discover lists that include miscellaneous emotions such as hunger, happiness, fatigue, and rhythm.
For the purposes of this post, we’ll stick with the five senses we learned about in elementary school.