“Fluff in Writing”

Derek Haines talks about the dreaded F word and how to – ulp – wipe it away.

And no, it has nothing to do with pillows or pleasing your partner. It’s our readers we’re talking about pleasing now.

by Derek Haines

What is fluff in writing?

It is when you use words that add little or no value to a text for a reader.

Fluff can be words and phrases that are off-topic, hard to understand, unclear, unnecessary, boring, or added only to increase the word count.

Every writer uses a bit of fluff in the first draft of a text. But good writers know they have to find it and remove as much as possible before publishing.

Fluff comes in many forms that can hinder clarity and conciseness.

All writers have weak tic words to delete when editing or proofreading.

These include really, very, just, rather, and such that can fall out of your fingers when typing.

Another typical form of fluff is redundancy.

In grammar, it means to use two or more words together that have the same meaning.

Passive voice is unclear because it doesn’t say who or what performed an action.

It’s always better to use the active voice whenever possible.

The grammatical expletive is also fluffy and worth avoiding.

But the most common fluff in writing is wordiness.

Let’s look at examples of fluff to help you improve and sharpen your writing.

1. weak or unnecessary modifiers

The worst offenders are very, really, and just.

You can usually remove these words with better word choices.

Fluff – Kate was really excited when she got the job offer.

Better – Kate was thrilled when she got the job offer.

Fluff – I ran very quickly when I saw the bus coming.

Better – I sprinted when I saw the bus coming.

Fluff – Just remember that you need to buy bread on the way home.

Better – Don’t forget to buy bread on the way home.

2. There is, there are, there were, it was

When a sentence starts with there or it and the verb to be, it’s a candidate for a rewrite. All you need to do is locate the subject to start the sentence.

Fluff – There are many ways that you can edit and improve a sentence.

Better – You can edit and improve a sentence in many ways.

Fluff – It was my fault that the book didn’t sell well because I didn’t edit it properly.

Better – The book didn’t sell well because of my poor editing.

3. Wordiness and filler words

When you use lots of words for no good reason, they are prime for deleting.

Fluff – In the fullness of time, and with the benefit of hindsight, Max finally found the motivation to begin the process of finding a new job after being unemployed for two years.

Better – Max started looking for a job after two years of unemployment.

Read it all at justpublishingadvice.com

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