Posts Tagged ‘tips’


Filter out the Filters

In writing on May 8, 2011 by Lujayn Ali Tagged: ,

First a shout out to all my nanowrimo 2010 writing buddies- without you I could never have done it. A heartfelt thanks to all of you. A special shout out to Leslie who has been an inspiration and a continuous source of encouragement, to Joan for being fantastic at organising the post nano reading material despite me being a bad student and not reading the material beforehand, to Liz with whom I enjoyed many chats and moans over the snow, Marlicia and Tahlia the fantastic mother-daughter duo to whom I wish the very best of luck in their separate and joint endeavours, Von who has been the first to comment on my blog 🙂 and has continued to find and share writing articles on her blog and last but not least Maryam with whom I went out to celebrate the completion of nanowrimo and gave me that much needed kick in the butt when I was about to give up 30K words in.

Second order of business, a bit about what I’ve learned and tips to improve the quality of your writing.

One thing that has always bemused me is the reason behind being told not to use adverbs and gerrunds (ing words). I had been under the impression that different sentence structures was good and that starting with an adverb was the way forward. How wrong I was. Joan explained why. Consider:

Bringing up the hammer she hit him repeatedly in the face.

Now compare with:

She lifted the hammer high above her head. With all her might, she brought it crashing down onto his face. Again and again.

You can appreciate how it makes for a much stronger sentence with more emotion and oomph behind it. So adverbs and gerunds are BAD and this is the reason why! It is difficult to try to rephrase but it pays off with stronger, more vivid writing.

The other thing which I hadn’t thought about but which has now been pointed out is the use of filters. Von very kindly shared this article about filters which you might find useful.  Filters are word/phrases that come between the reader and the action. Here is an example with the filters in italics taken directly from James Thayer’s article; consider:

Betty walked to the kitchen nook and sat on a chair near the window.  She looked out the window and she saw the gray Ford parked under the cedar tree across the park.  It seemed to her, though, that something was wrong with the car.  She noticed that it was tilted slightly, and then saw that the rear wheel was resting on the rim.

This is the same scenario, without the intervening consciousness created by the filters.

Betty walked to the kitchen nook and sat on a chair near the window.  A gray Ford was parked under the cedar tree across the park.  Something was wrong with the car.  It was tilted slightly, and the rear wheel was resting on the rim.

Again, much stronger, more interesting and more gripping. Good luck with your writing and don’t forget to have fun!