Do you ever watch those disturbing documentaries where they tell you all the crazy stuff put into hamburger meat? Ammonia. Bones. All the stuff that fell on the slaughter house floor (in the meat industry they call it “pink slime”—I’m not joking). Sorry, I just ruined your trip to McDonalds today :)
All this filler is added to bulk up ground beef so they don’t need to have as much real meat. Crazy, right? Now follow my train of thought, because I do have a literary point.
I’ve had a new book on my shelf since November. It’s the end in a very popular series. I enjoyed the first few books, and I’ve been waiting a long time for the last one to come out. But now that I’m reading it I realize—IT’S MOSTLY FILLER!
I’m 230 pages in and nothing substantial has happened—NOTHING! Oh, there’s been a little conflict and a few of cool things, but that stuff could’ve been done in 50 pages, MAX! (Can you tell by the all caps I’m disgusted? I AM!)
Here are a few thoughts about filler. Keep them in mind when you are editing.
- If you think it might be filler—IT IS.
- If it doesn’t raise the stakes, move the story forward, or up the tension—IT’S FILLER
- If you cut it and it doesn’t really change your story—“PINK SLIME”
- Cut it and see how it reads. You can always put it back—CUT, CUT, CUT!
- Just because you think it is cool, doesn’t mean it is—Words to live by Yanni :)
Because I’m determined to learn something, I will finish this stinking book. Wish me luck. I’ve 630 pages of “pink slime” to go!
DO NOT Google “hamburger pink slime.” It’s disturbing. Oh, and just as a reminder next week is the I'm Hearing Voices Blogfest. If you haven't done it yet there's still time to sign up :)