How to Cut “Fluff” [4 Writing Tips]

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” –Elmore Leonard

This post shares writing tips for removing “fluff” for your work. When you first learned how to write, likely you were faced with assignments with lofty word counts; adding some unnecessary and “fluffy” words helped to fill the requirement. When penning a novel or working as a writer, unfortunately “fluff” is no longer going to cut it. Here are four writing tips for removing this dreaded tactic from your pages.


4 Writing Tips for Removing “Fluff”

  1. Plan Ahead

Often when writers begin, they pen their article or chapters as they go, without careful planning. Planning ahead is an essential writing tip that can help you write stronger and tighter copy, free from “fluff.” Plot maps can be very helpful for this; create a loose structure or outline and follow it as you go.

  1. Remove Unnecessary Words

One of the best writing tips is to cut out all unnecessary words and focus on word economy. Unnecessary words are those which don’t change the meaning of the sentence when deleted. Commonly, words like “that,” “really,” and “just” fall under this category.

  1. Banish Adverbs

Famous horror writer Stephen King vehemently denounced adverbs in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, saying “the adverb is not your friend.” His reason? Most adverbs can be avoided by using strong adjectives.

His example was the sentence, “He closed the door firmly.” The word, “firmly” doesn’t have to appear in the sentence when a strong adjective is used. Instead you can say, “He slammed the door.”

  1. Conquer Writer’s Block

One of the reasons “fluff” can sneak into your writing is when you are at a loss for words. Writer’s block can affect even the best authors, but luckily there are several ways to beat it. Try taking a walk outside, using writing prompts or change up your surroundings to gain new ideas and inspiration.

Using a solid plot map, removing unnecessary words, banishing adverbs and conquering writer’s block can all help you write stronger and tighter copy. How do you cut “fluff” from your writing?