Avoid FilteringDefinition = sifting action through the POV character's senses.
1) He saw her step tiptoe around the lilac bush.
2) He felt his heart race.
Why We Should Avoid Filtering
1) Readers understand that that they are seeing, hearing, and feeling everything the POV character does, so we don't need to be told that he saw, heard, or felt what happens.
2) It puts a barrier between the reader and the story in a similar manner as when a third person narrator tells the story (omniscient POV).
3) It minimizes the impact of the action by adding an additional verb.
4) It adds unnecessary words.
How to Avoid Filtering
Simply tell what happens rather than stating that the character saw, heard, or felt it.
1) She tiptoed around the lilac bush.
2) His heart raced.
When something happens that the POV character knows something is going on, but not through the usual sense. Perhaps he is blindfolded, can't hear due to the noise in the room, or is hiding. We still need to know what's going on around him, but can't show it through the sense the character would normally use. Usualy in these cases we can still let the reader know what the character experienced without filtering the action through the character's senses.
1) An intruder has entered the POV character's bedroom, so she hides under her bed.Filtering = "She heard the intruder open the closet and search through her clothes."
Corrected = "The closet door slid along its track and the hangers screeched across the rod as the intruder shuffled through her clothes."
The descriptions of the sounds tells the reader that the woman knew what the intruder was doing by the sounds he made.
2) The POV character is at an airport and the sound of an airplane taking off drowns out all other sound.
Filtering = She saw her partner's mouth move, but couldn't hear what he said.
Corrected = Her partner said something, but the roar of an airplane taking off masked his words.
When we simply state what the POV character experienced rather than telling readers that he or she experienced it through a certain sense, the writing is tighter and less telling.
TOP 10 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING - PART 8
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Suzanne Hartmann - 2012
Author of PERIL: Fast Track Thriller #1
Author of Write This Way: Take Your Writing to a New Level