Have you ever read a novel that was far too indulgent for its own good?
Perhaps the plot dragged on and on or the prose meandered or the author spent a highly unnecessary amount of time on world-building or the color of their characters’ hair. Maybe you weren’t exactly sure where the author went wrong, but you know the book could have been at least fifty pages shorter.
A touch of fluff bears little consequence, of course, but too much filler can easily weigh a story down. Knowing how onerous such indulgent stories can be, it’s time we took a look at our own manuscripts and the fluff that may be lurking within. How can you identify and cut your story’s filler? Let’s discuss today, writers!
What is filler content, exactly?
From our introduction today, we’ve established that filler content, or fluff, is an overindulgence that leads to a story padded with unnecessary content. Filler can appear anywhere: in plot arcs, in prose, in exposition and description, in dialogue, and even among a cast of characters and themes.
In essence, filler content is that which doesn’t serve a purpose. It has no true bearing on the story, and thus removing it would have little to no effect on the story overall. In fact, cutting such content can only make a story better. But what kinds of purposes can each of your story’s passages fulfill? Take a look:
PURPOSE #1: A PASSAGE CAN DEEPEN CHARACTERIZATION.
Bringing characters to life on the page is incredibly important. If readers don’t first make a connection with your characters, they simply won’t care about your story’s conflict and its consequences. Thus, scenes, descriptions, conversations, and expository passages that lend themselves to deepening readers’ understanding of your characters will always serve an important purpose in your story. See more . . .