Friday, September 20, 2013

The Evil of Filler Sentences

I use Grammarly to check plagiarism because plagiarists are nearly as bad as terrorists. 


I have been studying writing for a good amount of time now. I always figured that, as a writer, I should study my craft. A college class I am taking brought my attention to the importance of the sentence. I might even call it an epiphany. You might laugh at this, thinking that of course the sentence is important. It is, after all, necessary for writing and communication. It could of course be argued that words are the true building blocks and if any epiphany should happen it should be about their importance. I would agree with all these arguments and assumptions, but nonetheless I came to realize in an instance how little I valued the sentence. 

My reasoning for this rests on one thing: filler sentences.

What are filler sentences?

In truth, I do not know if "filler sentence" is a technical phrase. I choose to use it because I can, because I am a writer, because I can create words and phrases and attach meaning to them. My definition of a filler sentence is a sentence that holds no real purpose or meaning. 


Let me further expand on some ways to recognize filler sentences so that you will understand my meaning more fully. Also, let it be known that I am hesitant to use the phrase "filler sentence" in regard to non-fiction, so we will be taking into consideration fiction writing in this post. 

When writing a short story every sentence is important. The same applies with novel writing. Filler sentences are those sentences which really are not important. Here are three good questions to ask yourself in order to identify a filler sentence: 

1. Does this sentence further the scene or plot? 

2. Does this sentence mean anything? 

3. Does this sentence create any feelings? 

I recently finished editing my novel and I had to get rid a lot of filler sentences. I learned that I sometimes wrote sentence just to change a scene or explain something. These sentences were bland and were only there to fill in space. I keep a wide eye open for them when writing my short stories as well. In a novel one of these sentences can easily be ignored, but in a short story every sentence needs to be important because bland, filler sentences stand out like a man wearing an eyepatch at a glasses convention (if such a thing exists, but you get the picture). 

I learned to value every sentence I write because of my fear of the evil filler sentence; evil which I fall into far too often. Just as in vocal communication it is easy for someone to take something we say the wrong way, we must be careful that every written sentence has purpose and is necessary so that we do not mislead our readers from what we are really saying.


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