The Fluff Balance

Credit/John Short

Credit/John Short

Hello, my dear readers! I hope your week is going well.

I’m currently working on a book for a client about excellence in writing. In my research, I’ve had something of an epiphany.

For years, I’ve been a concise writer. That might be fine for journalism, but for other types of writing, maybe I’ve been looking at it all the wrong way.

There’s a popular adage that tells us when it comes time to edit an article, a full-on novel or even a script, it’s a good idea to cut down on words wherever you can. For example, trade out adverbs for stronger verbs so you won’t need them, maybe get rid of the more boring parts of the book or at least cut them down to a level that makes the story flow easier.

I try to keep my stories and other such writings as concise as possible, but doing research for my latest endeavour leads me to the conclusion that there really isn’t anything wrong with a little fluff.

I guess it’s not really fair to call it “fluff” so much as adding a dimension to your characters to make them more realistic; it’s just shorter to say “fluff.” Let’s take a script I was recently working on as an example. It’s a sci-fi story in which the protagonist is haunted by dreams of his untimely demise to the point where it’s affecting his sense of reality.

When he’s not wrestling with the big questions of life, what does he do? When a detective needs a moment to get away from his case, what does he do?

As a writer, you shouldn’t be afraid of the mundane. My protagonist liked to bake. He appreciated the routines in life because they felt normal, comfortable and feeling useful was all he ever wanted (well, that, and to rid himself of the hellish nightmares that plagued his every sleeping hour).

By adding the fact that your heroes or villains go through the humdrum of everyday life and delving into their routines, likes and dislikes, it humanizes the character and makes them feel more alive.

That’s not to say you need to go into great detail into every aspect of every day, even when nothing in particular happens. No, peppering the details particularly toward the beginning of the book before the plot really starts to ramp up would be the better way to go. You have to walk the line; strike a balance between routine and plot points.

In journalism, where I worked for several years, fluff has its proper place and time, namely in human interest stories. In writing fiction, blogs and works outside of journalism, the rules are the same. So don’t be afraid of the mundane; there’s a place for the everyday in your writing.

How do you handle the more mundane points in your stories? Discuss in the comments below! 

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here

My freelancing e-book, Dip Into the Ink Pot, is now available on Amazon by clicking here!
Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see, and I’ll talk to you next week!

– Adam

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