The Art of Fluff

Words, words, words. How much filler does it take to write a novel?


The number one obstacle I have to overcome every time I work on my books is adding content to reach my own preset goal.


Word count holds me in its grip. I am like an athlete, word count is my coach, and he is screaming, “More! Give Me More!” (Okay, I stole that line from Police Academy)


I condense by nature. For a number of years, I have often thought my true calling as a writer was as an editor in the condensed books section of Reader’s Digest.


Is it necessary to describe, in minute detail, the number of leaves on the tree? Is it relevant to the story? Is there a story behind each fallen leaf?


What if my writing is just Fitzgerald filler? Do I need to write fluff just to fill a page with words that have no significance to the story?


Surprisingly, I have mixed feelings about the answer. My strong suit in writing is flash fiction. However, since I began writing full-length novels, I can see first-hand why there is a need for a bit of pouf.


It is probably a good thing I was not around when our long-winded forefathers wrote the Declaration of Independence. I would have condensed it to something like: We will drive your despotic ass out of our country if you try to take our freedom away and we have the Divine One riding shotgun. Pffft.


I continue to evolve as a novelist and, instead of trimming the fat, I am realizing that a little fat is a good thing. I am learning to embrace a bit of fluff.


J J Dare is the author of “False Positive” and “False World,”

the first two novels in the Joe Daniels’ trilogy



Filed under books, fiction, writing

3 responses to “The Art of Fluff

  1. dsak708

    You are on the right track. Detail pulls thoughtful and sensitive readers into the middle of the present moment. Inside that moment, they will contact something called “the intent of the soul”.
    With this intent, they will sense a choice involving your character’s destiny. This is what they need to know.
    Unfortunately, it is almost a lost art in our age of rapid action media shows.
    But you are on the right track. That’s my experience with modern prose. It begins when you believe characters have souls.

  2. dellanioakes

    JJ, I have exactly the opposite problem. I tend to use five or six words where one will do. I don’t describe each leaf on the tree, I tend to delve into everyone’s thoughts about that dumb leaf, why it’s on the ground and how long it took it to fall. By the time I’m done, everyone has given an opinion. The more I try to trim the fat, the fatter it gets!

    I’ve enjoyed reading “False Positive”. I’m only a couple chapters in, but it’s riveting!

  3. amydetrempe

    “We will drive your despotic ass out of our country if you try to take our freedom away and we have the Divine One riding shotgun”
    I loved that!!!!!
    I am that way with fluff as well. I tend to write the story and then need to go back and add the description so the reader has a sense of where the characters are. My critique group’s biggest complaint is I tend to be sparse on the details.

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