Okay, Alright, Er, Hm…

Filler words. A writer’s enemy.

Filler words are typically meaningless words used in the middle of a hesitation or pause of conversation. Example: You know, Er, Hmm, Alright, Oh, Okay, etc.

In college, these words were whipped out of me and I’ve grown to detest them. Yes, there are awkward pauses that can fill you with tension to the point of saying something just to break it up – but please don’t use filler words. Move a conversation along to the next topic. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

I call these a writer’s enemy because I believe most writer’s know good groundwork of the written language and filler words don’t belong in good writing. However, to make your writing believable/realistic, those filler words are almost a requirement. Not everyone is going to realize they use such words or have experienced a college class where the professor docks credit if you use them verbally.

In writing, filler words can be used to break up a long paragraph or where a single character is talking for a long period of time. Another character can be inserted as trying to interrupt by using “Okay…”. Just don’t litter your work with them.

Example: The Harry Potter series and the Twilight Saga uses them throughout the books.

The biggest eye-opener I had to filler words was in another college class of mine. The brilliant professor had a tendency to use such words. The picture below was the record of each time he used the filler words. He used 626 words within that 3 hour long singular class setting. And that wasn’t all because I grew tired of counting towards the end. He probably thought that was my best day of note taking.


As you can see, I grew to despise the word “okay” for that quarter.

L. R. Mauck


Author: lrmauck

Over the last decade, I have received several positive feedbacks on my stories and one college professor encouraging me to pursue a career as a writer. I have attended a few elective writing classes at IUS to help hone in on my skills. I have recently attended Kentucky Writing Workshop in Louisville, KY where I learned more hands-on experience and encouragement from other writers. I currently resides in southern Indiana with my four fur babies. Follow me on twitter at: @lrmauck

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