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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Prompt: Make Yourself Aware of Filtering

This prompt relates to the craft element of filtering.  So if you're not sure what filtering language is, you might want to start there.  As always this is a prompt and not the start of your Dragoncruiservampkiller Saga, so relax and don't forget to have fun.  This prompt is intended to help you become aware of filtering language and how to remove it from your prose.

Prompt: Attempt a two page scene filled with action from a character's point of view (first person or a limited third, but not omniscient).  This prompt will be easiest if it is only one character's point of view the whole time. Include as much possible filtering language as you can.  Let the pages drip with "he noticed" and "she saw that."  In the words of Dr. Cox from Scrubs: "Just go nuts!"  If possible, include no direct action at ALL, but make every single thing "filter" through the focalizer.  Have fun making it as filtery as you can.  By the end it should be comically bad.

Next, go through and fix all of it.  Every last filtery bit of it. If you feel the need to reiterate that the focalizer is the witness to the events, then you must earn it.  Otherwise see how it feels to get rid of all of that filterfication.  Do you ever "forget" whose point of view it is, or is it pretty clear even through the action.  Notice how everything seems more crisp and direct?


The great thing about filtering language is how easy it is to notice and fix once you have an eye for it.  (Though you'll notice it in other writing too, so get ready for a feeling similar to being told there is a smudge on the movie screen.)  A few simple exercises to train your Notice-Filtering Gland and you'll be on your way to snatching the marble from your Sufi's hand in no time.

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