Filter Words

Hello, Write Owls. Welcome to Day 21 of Grammar 110. Today we’re talking about filter words.

Filter words (not to be confused with yesterday’s filler words) are words that filter the reader’s experience.


  • Felt
  • Heard
  • Looked at
  • Saw
  • Smelled
  • Tasted
  • Thought
  • Wondered

Typically you can replace these words with a description of whatever the character is sensing. This is particularly important for stories written in first person.


Filter: She saw flowers growing in the garden outside the library.

No Filter: Flowers were growing in the garden outside the library. (You can probably come up with a more creative description. This is just a simple example.)

Filter: He heard music coming from the bar.

No Filter: Music came from the bar.

Filter: I thought about what happened today.

No Filter: I can’t believe what happened today.

Removing filter words from your manuscript will help make your writing more interesting, and in some cases it will lower your word count. Keep in mind there are times when it’s appropriate to use these words. You just need to ask yourself which instances can stay as is and which ones can be altered.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, and I will answer them either as a reply or in my Q&A on Saturday.

For practice, see if you can rewrite these sentences to remove the filter words.

1. Diane saw a mountain lion yesterday.

2. I could smell old books and incense in the ancient library.

3. I wondered when I would see her again.

4. Luke tasted the rich chocolate in the pie.

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