An Ongoing List of Filler Words I Have Abused

What’s on the tin, my dears.

Some of these are not actually filler words per se, just words I abuse way too much. I’m planning to update this list as I unearth more and ruthlessly expunge them from my narrative.

To use: Ctrl+F the word, look for it in your manuscript, delete/edit/revise/leave alone as necessary. These words are (obviously) necessary sometimes, but just not ever in the amount I like to use them.

It reminds me of the time I was slow-cooking a chicken and dumped the entire package of Montreal Chicken spice on top. That was a salty chicken.

As of March 2021:

  • So
    my nemesis
  • That is
  • Thing
    I used “thing” so much in Bolfenn that a beta reader called me out on it. What am I supposed to be, some kind of writer or something?! I’m always going to reach for the laziest word…
  • Sigh
  • Very
  • Some kind of
  • Almost
    “He almost sighed.” This phrase might also be my nemesis. Can one have two nemesis…es? Nemesi? Nemeses?


Work’s been kicking my ass lately. Okay, so it has been for most of the past twelve months now. It’s been especially kicking my ass since February.


Well, one of these days I’ll be a famous author and spend my days signing books and, uh, whatever else famous authors do right? Retconning shit on Twitter? Inventing backstory to questions my readers never asked? All that fun stuff.

Getting back to business, here, I thought I’d put together a guide to editing as practiced be me, a woman with little experience and questionable results. It’ll have a cool infographic though! I hear those are all the rage on the Twitter these days.

Oh, here it is.

I mean, it’s all there. Drama. Excitement. Huge space battles.

(I was thinking about Loyalty again. Sorry).

I’ll transcribe it all here as well, in case someone is using a screen reader or the image borks out!


You can’t edit a novel (or anything) if you don’t have a draft. Go write it.

What? You’ve written it already? It sits upon your computer in beautiful speckled glory? Continue to stage 2.


If you’re following along with the pictures, you’ll notice that our eggs have turned into a beautiful chrysalis, skipping the caterpillar stage entirely.

That is because after writing a draft, you must wait as long as you can bear (weeks or months, preferably) before you open it again.

Only then can your draft become a caterpillar, with apologies to Mother Nature.


Okay. You have a draft. You’ve forgotten everything you loved (and hated) about it. It’s fresh. It’s new. It’s…

Crawling around on a dozen creepy little legs and staring at you with six tiny stemmata*!

Now begins the fun. Open up that bad boy and read it. Don’t change anything! Don’t edit! If you must, make notes as you go, but try to just soak it in, beginning-to-end.
*stemmata are caterpillar eyes! Your Fun Fact for the day


You’ve made a draft, you have a solid understanding of how it flows and where the weak points are.

Open the file, save a fresh copy (always save a new copy for a new draft! You might change your mind about edits later) and start from the first line, first word.

As you go, make wording and phrasing changes, copy-edits, grammar–everything you see!

The result of this will be…


Uh-oh, back to the chrysalis!

Give yourself a week off to let the changes you’ve just made settle. Once they’re not keeping you awake at night anymore, go back to your clean copy and give it another once-over. This time, make notes about structural problems: missing scenes, scenes which don’t flow well, characters acting in ways which are convenient for the plot but not necessarily their story arc. Go back, save another copy, and fix these problems too.


You now have a clean draft with few structural errors which you’ve read at least twice completely. It’s time to…

Get Outside Feedback.

Doesn’t have to be that scary, though. Give it to a trusted friend, preferably one who is also a writer or avid reader. Ask for their feedback, plot points, thoughts on characterization–whatever they’re willing to give.

All feedback is good feedback. Make that your mantra as you sit there in anxiety, waiting for a response.


Keep going.

Listen to feedback and incorporate it if you feel it is useful. All feedback is good feedback, but it’s your novel.

Read and re-read and keep making changes if you feel they are useful.

Try reading passages aloud to see how they flow: something which reads awkwardly aloud will sound awkward in your reader’s head, too.


You’re done!

You’ve copy-edited, read aloud, fixed structural problems, solicited feedback from friends, and read the manuscript so many times you’re starting to loathe the thing.

What you do next is up to you. Put it up on Wattpad? Publish on Amazon or IngramSpark? Start querying? The world is your oyster: you wrote a novel!


Planning to use this as a sort of progress tracker for my writing/editing/publishing.

So the best way to do that is record where I am right now!

  1. Bolfenn: beta reading
  2. Into the Grey: drafting, 10k/100k target words
  3. Bootstrap_: alpha reading; ending needs significant re-write
  4. Loyalty: alpha reading
  5. Sacrifice: revising & adding scenes

Then there’s the “someday” projects which are not being actively worked on:

  1. Lesbian Island: needs a from-the-ground-up rewrite
  2. Sad Valkyrie: also needs a from-the-ground-up rewrite
  3. That Sequel to Bolfenn that Maria wants: outlining, 2k/100k words