When we speak, we often use filler words such as “um… like… ya know…” We wouldn’t use them when writing because we know they sound insecure or sloppy.
But there are other filler words that can easily slip into your writing and dilute it. Readers eyes glaze over and you can easily lose their attention. If you eliminate these words, it will enhance your communication—in any type of writing.
Here are some examples of unnecessary filler words in writing:
SEEMS TO BE
Here are some examples of eliminating these words (as well as using more powerful words in their place).
NO: Dear Mr. Boss, I would really like to take three days off—June 21, 22, 23. Is that OK with you? It’s extremely important to me, and you know that I typically don’t ask for time off. It’s kind of urgent. Please let me know. Thank you.
YES: Dear Mr. Boss, I would like to take three days off for an urgent personal matter—June 21, 22, 23. Thank you.
NO: There was absolutely no way that Carina’s boss would just let her take three days off. He was very hard-nosed about literally everyone working as much as he did, which was roughly every waking moment.
YES: Carina’s boss worked twelve hours every day, and he expected his employees to do the same. It would take a miracle for him to give her those three days off.
(Notice how starting with the person, Carina’s boss, is much more effective than starting with the filler words “There was absolutely no way…”. Also color your writing with something interesting like “It would take a miracle!”)
NO: Usually Carina was totally focused on her work. But now she was so fidgety and nervous about what her boss would say, she seemed to be unable to do her job. She suddenly jumped as he called her to come into his office immediately. Her heart quickly started to pound almost out of her chest.
YES: Carina’s anxiety made it impossible to focus on work. When her boss abruptly called her to his office, she jumped up, heart pounding.
Using these words is bad enough, but if you repeat them, you end up sounding like Dr. Seuss (or worse!):
So then Jim and Bob started to fight. So they got up and punched each other. So then people started gathering around. So then someone called 911. So then the police came out. So they got arrested. So then (stop!!)
So typically you can pretty much cut out a ton of unnecessary empty filler words immediately that really make everything extremely hard to read and literally detract from your message. 😉
Savvy Writer Tip:
If you want to keep your readers’ attention, make sure your writing is clear, concise, and impactful. Obliterate filler words! 🙂