Filtering is a habit we probably all had to shake at one time or another.
Some expressions have a diluting effect. If you are “filtering” words through the character’s senses—smell, touch, taste, hearing, or sight, you are most likely guilty of “telling” the reader what is happening. There is no need to filter the experiences through the character’s eyes, ears, or other sensory receptors.
Filtered: She saw the car go by. (The action passes through her eyes first.)
Unfiltered: The car whizzed by.
Filtered: She felt upset.(The action passes through her emotions.)
Unfiltered: She sobbed.
Filtered: She heard the sound of a train. (The action passes through her ears.)
Unfiltered: A train whistle broke the silence.
I’m sure you get the idea. Some of the following key words may help us to watch for filtering.
This is only a partial list of filter words. There are many, many more.
If you see one of these words in your writing, take a second look and decide whether you are filtering the action through one of the senses. If you are, you could probably get rid of the filter and rewrite the sentence in a stronger, more direct way.
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