I wrote this pot for Three Worlds Press’s blog about a month ago but want to share it here as well. Filtering is a big issue that can really weigh down your pros. This post explains what filtering is and how to fix it. I hope you find it helpful.
By: Amanda Siemen
As an editor the one thing I see in almost every manuscript submitted for publishing is filtering. So what is filtering?
Filtering is a pesky thing that weighs down a story by separating the reader from the POV character by placing a screen between them. This is dangerous because it separates the reader from the story and often leads to telling.
Let me show by example.
Lisa saw a man walk by the window and became scared. She realized she was trapped when she noticed the door knob turning. Looking around she saw a baseball bat and decided to pick it up. She moved near the door and prepared to swing. When the man entered she recognized him as her husband and dropped the bat with relief.
The above paragraph is full of filtering. I have highlighted the filtering words so that they can be easily identified.
Now look at the same paragraph without the filtering:
A man walked past the window. Lisa’s pulse quickened. Who could be out there? The door knob rattled and Lisa swallowed hard. She glanced around searching for a way out. Trapped, Lisa picked up an old baseball bat from against the wall and moved nearer to the door. Lifting the bat she prepared to swing. The door opened and Lisa dropped the bat, relief washing through her. “Bob, thank God it’s you.”
Not my best piece of writing but it illustrates the idea. In the second paragraph the reader stay’s right there with Lisa. It is more engaging.
Authors should look for the following types of words in their manuscripts and clean them out whenever possible.
To sound (or sound like)
To be able to
By searching for and removing filters authors will bring their stories to the next level. This is because when filters are removed the story becomes more engaging. As a bonus removing filters also tends to remove telling.