Some say we must not use this term, the style over there, or that word, as we author our manuscripts for presentation to the masses. A new term for me has been introduced for my benefit to the general public via Instagram, and I happened to read it. The source is someone I respect very much, so I will forgo naming names. However, I learned about something writing experts called “filter words.” According to Scribophile , “In fiction, the concept of filtering is similar: filtering removes something; something is prevented from reaching the story, and thus the reader. In writing, filters are unnecessary words that separate the reader from the story’s action. They come between the reader’s experience and the character’s point of view.” Thus, it is advised that we use them with less frequency if we wish to reach the reader, by those who could justifiably call themselves “scholars.” Others may be familiar with another thorn in the side of many, passive voice, and how that might take away from ownership of an action. I appreciate all of these insights and even the sentiments of many regarding what has been shared, I really do.
Here’s a short/simple example provided on Scribophile of the most common way we filter and how to fix it:
BEFORE: She felt her hand trembling on the steering wheel
AFTER: Her hand trembled on the steering wheel
Many will prefer the latter example, but for some strange reason, I actually prefer the first example. I don’t know why it is, but I feel more profoundly when I sense that what I am reading is written with genuine words, no matter their description, “filter words” or not. For me, honest or “raw” writing is typically the best. It doesn’t mean that we can’t provide more clarity to a phrase or that we can’t learn from the professionals who have many years of experience, because we can and will. That is how we progress as a society, learning from those who have the experience, the knowledge, the time, and thus, the wisdom. Writing our hearts, minds, and souls, seems the best way to go for now, and I am sure I am not alone.
If writers have a powerful and meaningful message to share, they need to write it their way, otherwise, we risk an overly blase and disingenuous delivery. Unique styles attract different minds that are wired quite differently all over the globe and in a variety of ways. Ultimately, for me, when it comes to writing, it is about the power of the message. Do we write in a way to connect at a deeper level? Do we strive to drive home a sense of purpose, meaning, and edification? Are we trying to provide a mind-break, a moment of fun, or a wonderful rest from the cares of the day? Or, are we merely dumbing down the masses, by combating something even more profound, helpful, and sophisticated, for the sake of the almighty dollar?
I researched a lot about writing, among other scientific subjects, like physics, biology, neuroscience, emotional intelligence, and more, infusing it with experiences I’ve had while meeting wonderful people throughout the world, prior to putting pen to paper. So, I suppose that for me, how we write, our style, our technique, and our delivery is for each of us to decide. Will it resonate with the masses? That I could not say. There are plenty of movies, TV series, and shows based on previously written stories that have moved me deeply that indicate that this is possible, but in most circumstances these phenomenal works came from teams of people, working together, finding a positive vibe prior to initiating critical feedback, and all for the success of the message.
When it comes to “buzz words” or “filter words” or “passive voice” or whatever type of word that is suggested by some writers that take away from the power of the message, I have to go with me and write in the style that conveys what I wish to convey in the manner that I’d like for it to be received. All told, I’d rather write to edify and inspire the best in our society and help to advance civilization, without breaking down long sentences, using simpler words, etc.. That said, I don’t use “big” words for vanity, I use words that are necessary to the message. If that means my writing comes across as “different,” “non-conformist,” or “awkward” to the established way of thinking, then I believe the responsibility of receipt of the message lies upon the individual who may or may not have succeeded to strive to understand the actual message provided.
I believe that understanding is a two-way street; we can write as clearly as we can to be understood, but it is upon the rest of us to try to understand what we are reading. Ultimately, I encourage authors or writers to write with our hearts, our souls, and our minds, and in the clearest manner we can. It seems to me, then, that a message that is well-intended, while providing meaningful insight and encourages neurological growth will reach the hearts of those who are ready to receive the message.
There are many examples, however, of wonderful stories heard by few. If but a few read and understand a noble and hope-giving message, written on my part, then I know that I will have achieved the kind of success I am searching for. While selling to the masses and becoming affluent would be a wonderful thing, I will be okay with that, so long as I write by reaching hearts and bringing clarity to the mind on how we can help humanity to reach the stars with a legacy we’d be proud to share with distant civilizations.
I love the people of this world, and I know they have it in them to begin with the first step, of kindness. From there, with love, vision, and well-being at the core of our every move and innovation, we’ll have promise as a civilization. If I can reach and connect with but a few people with my writings, then I will be at peace with the texts that I share with the world.
That’s my rebel writer advice and take on things for now. Perhaps I have yet much to learn, but I am sure I will if I speak and write with sincerity and with well-being at the core of each phrase.
Respectfully Written, by Matthew J Opdyke