As a content writer, a phrase I hear far too often is “Can you just fluff it up?” Technically “fluff” refers to writing that is perceived as trivial or superficial. Writing and word usage can be tricky, but your content isn’t a pillow. “Fluff” is for people who have nothing of value to say. Your writing should be filled with honesty and connect you to your audience.
Words such as really, very, so, basically, pretty, virtually, definitely and rather are the biggest offenders here. They are weak words that add nothing of value to your sentences. For example: It is really very important to not use fluff words because they hardly add any value to your work. You can succinctly change that to: Don’t use fluff words. They add no value to your work.
Don’t believe me? Ask Mark Twain:
“Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
Besides, you can find a better adjective to describe what you’re trying to say:
- “It’s very hot” — It’s scorching.
- “He’s really sad” — He’s despondent.
- “She was so angry” — She was furious.
Avoid needless filler! In a related resolution, stop using “filler” words and phrases that mean nothing. They are the empty calories of language, carried over from conversational English (where they also don’t belong). Take a look:
- “To be honest” / “Honestly” — My dad always told me people who use this phrase cannot be trusted. You should avoid it.
- “Be that as it may” — What? This phrase is no longer relevant to modern English. Avoid it.
- “Personally” — Well, on who else’s behalf would you be writing?
- “In my opinion” — Again, you are the one speaking. There is no reason to state this.
- “In order to” — You don’t need the “in order” part. Just start with “to.”
- “Needless to say” — Then why say it?
- “In the event that” — The word you’re looking for is “if.”
- “It is important to note” — Just note it then, friend.
In the words of Henry David Thoreau: “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” Proof your content for empty phrases and filler words, and get rid of them. Your audience will appreciate it.