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How To Write Good Filler?

Yusuke

Artist of Desires
Joined
Apr 14, 2021
Location
United States
So I've got a writing conundrum. I feel like I'm good at plotting out the major points in a story but I struggle when it comes to filling in the gaps. For example, you have a basic fantasy plot with a hook that brings the two main characters together and the over arching goal they're working towards. But then what are some things you do to fill the gap between major events?
 

Sync

Corporate Drone
Supporter
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Location
Australia
Hmmm... Time Skip posts. Those are fun. And I mean that with both sincerity and sarcasm, because both reactions can be true. :)

Sarcasm - because you've got the "oh, great - a filler post, what the heck do I put in it?" obstacle in your head.

Sincerity - because once you've worked out what you're going to put in it, a filler post can be a blast to write. It's where you can really cut loose with your writing without affecting either your partner or the plot.

Some things I use for filler posts include:
* thoughts & feelings of the character as they contemplate and reflect on what has happened previously;
* descriptions of the change in environment & season as time moves on;
* movements of some NPCs that may or may not be linked to the main story;
* covering non-important (or are they non-important?) interactions between the main character and NPCs.

If you're feeling really adventurous, you could even use a Time Skip post to give an insight into the BBEG's thoughts/movements. The antagonist of the story isn't sitting on their thumbs waiting for the hero to arrive, after all. ;)
 
OP
OP
Yusuke

Yusuke

Artist of Desires
Joined
Apr 14, 2021
Location
United States
Hmmm... Time Skip posts. Those are fun. And I mean that with both sincerity and sarcasm, because both reactions can be true. :)

Sarcasm - because you've got the "oh, great - a filler post, what the heck do I put in it?" obstacle in your head.

Sincerity - because once you've worked out what you're going to put in it, a filler post can be a blast to write. It's where you can really cut loose with your writing without affecting either your partner or the plot.

Some things I use for filler posts include:
* thoughts & feelings of the character as they contemplate and reflect on what has happened previously;
* descriptions of the change in environment & season as time moves on;
* movements of some NPCs that may or may not be linked to the main story;
* covering non-important (or are they non-important?) interactions between the main character and NPCs.

If you're feeling really adventurous, you could even use a Time Skip post to give an insight into the BBEG's thoughts/movements. The antagonist of the story isn't sitting on their thumbs waiting for the hero to arrive, after all. ;)
All sounds like great advice! Gave me some good ideas. I'll have to use the good ol time skip more!
 

Mitsu

Supernova
Joined
Oct 22, 2009
I write my role-plays like I would write a story or direct a movie.

My stories are a series of linked scenes with a narrative structure that pushes events forward to the conclusion of the story. I consider what sort of scene I need to unfold that story, what I need to do to reach the next plot point. I then construct the premise for a scene that will get me there. I feel that every single scene should have an objective, a purpose for existing. If it does not have that, then I don't think it should be written. That objective could serve the narrative, characterization, or just be a fun writing exercise. It doesn't matter what the objective is, but it must be something that lends to telling a story or being a cathartic bit of fun that doesn't disrupt the overall narrative.

If I don't know why I'm writing something, then I should not be writing something. I should move onto an idea that actually has a purpose. If I cannot consider what to write next, then I've lost the plot and have reached a dead end.

Each individual post should serve to further the objective that I've established after considering the premise of the scene. This is the most important aspect of pacing. You don't want to move too fast, and you don't want to linger too long. This is where role-plays will start to feel terribly rushed, where potential interesting bits will never be written; or when you suddenly find yourself spinning your wheels and stuck in a quagmire of boring and uninteresting bullshit. Like each scene, each post should be about something. A post should say something and do something that is interesting and/or productive. If I find myself writing a post, and I'm not really sure why I'm writing it, then I shouldn't be writing it.

Generally, don't write filler at all. Only write what is interesting and doesn't feel like filler. Feel free to make whatever narrative jump you feel is suitable to do so, even if you have to skip time and mention in narratiation that you have done so.

Or...

Just do whatever you want. I'm not your dad.
 

Eneru

Dom Master
Joined
Dec 28, 2020
Location
Mediterranean
Some things I use for filler posts include:
* thoughts & feelings of the character as they contemplate and reflect on what has happened previously;
* descriptions of the change in environment & season as time moves on;
* movements of some NPCs that may or may not be linked to the main story;
* covering non-important (or are they non-important?) interactions between the main character and NPCs.

If you're feeling really adventurous, you could even use a Time Skip post to give an insight into the BBEG's thoughts/movements. The antagonist of the story isn't sitting on their thumbs waiting for the hero to arrive, after all. ;)

This pretty much covers most of what I would recommend as well.

The main thing I would add is that you can use exactly those same points listed above to make even what you might consider "boring filler" into something mildly erotic and fun to write. Stuff like showcasing what the side characters and NPCs are thinking of the other character to some extent. It could be something as simple as detailing how and why they find the other character so attractive even if nothing is going to happen with that particular NPC, or even them briefly trying and failing to flirt. When it comes to filler posts in fantasy, though, you can also keep things a lot briefer when it comes to dialogues and such, since lately, I've found that purpose can matter more than size when it comes to posts. If you're narrating a conversation, no need to go into great detail, but you can use the aforementioned descriptors to pad it out, like a sleazy innkeeper giving the other character a look over or blatantly looking at their breasts and what they think of their physique/reputation, or perhaps going into a tangent about when he used to be an adventurer or something along those lines.

I would also recommend, seeing as you have a pretty cool Sanji GIF as your profile picture, to do what Eichiro Oda (the author of One Piece) would do. You can use filler posts to do some world-building and go into descriptions about places, thoughts, and NPCs that have some foreshadowing to them. Think of it like "there is no filler, only world-building" and you'll have a much easier time. Particularly when it comes to fantasy plots, I myself find it very easy to get lost in describing the sceneries, the way of life of people in a certain place, and the appearance of the general population. Take a moment to think how you could potentially make an NPC that would otherwise be boring and with just one purpose into a bit of a quirky encounter, like making them sleazy, nervous, drunk, giddy, or even just downright so dull that you take a small paragraph to describe just how dull and monotone they are.

And, of course, anything that isn't important to the story or the desired content can then be done in a time skip. I also find that sometimes, especially when writing a longer time-skip post to set up a new day or scene, leaving some things out to use in the next post can also make sure you don't write out everything in one go are left with nothing. Leaving things on a cliff-hanger is, sometimes, the best way to write an RP post since that's the perfect situation for the other person to jump in and do their bit.

Once more, foreshadowing is a powerful tool as well as giving each and every boring NPC a purpose, no matter how small it is. Once you get into the idea of writing your own 'Lord Of The Rings' world of sorts, you'll soon find that there is much much more you can write and it'll become easier and easier to see how you can use each post to shape the world and create immersion for you and your partner.

Generally, don't write filler at all. Only write what is interesting and doesn't feel like filler. Feel free to make whatever narrative jump you feel is suitable to do so, even if you have to skip time and mention in narratiation that you have done so.

Or, in other words, this.
 

ƒeral

𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝔀𝓲𝓵𝓭 𝕚𝕟 𝕞𝕪 𝕧𝕖𝕚𝕟𝕤
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Location
ʙᴀ ᴅᴜᴍ 𝙩𝙨𝙨
this has already been somewhat covered, but i just wanted to emphasize this point - everything, everything, is an opportunity for a 'character piece.' or, a chance to flesh out your character.

this is particularly true as most roleplays tend to be 1x1s, where characterization is arguably more important than anything else. pardon my french but - what makes your character more fuckable than everyone else in that multiverse? the answer to that question goes far deeper than 'he stronk' or 'she hot'. both of those traits are dime a dozen in roleplay. what really makes the reader connects with the main cast though? it's characters that come off the sheets. characters with multi-faceted personalities, backstories that have meat and funny stories. depth, nuances, progression. the golden standard in a long-term rp is that whenever something happens (a new foe arises, an argument occurs, etc.), the reader should be able to point at your character and say, 'i think this character will behave in roughly this fashion.' would they know exactly what action or exactly what dialogue said character will do or say? no, but they should get the gist. at that point, i would say, amazing, you've successfully conveyed what you needed to convey of who she or he is

^take that last bit with a grain of salt though. if a character's response to everything is 'murderhobo it', that is predictable, but uninteresting.

besides, i've never seen anyone complain if you write an extra 200 words or so just describing how attractive your character is performing a certain action.

His battle-honed physique tightened, arms flexing like bows drawn taut. He brought the greataxe down - thunk - splitting wood with a tool unfitted for its purpose, with the unspent violence knitting his brows and clenching his teeth from a foe that yet evaded him. A waste of the sharpness of his weapon, but necessary. Stranded as they were, firewood was essential, and he would provide warmth for his unexpected allies as a show of good faith. Sweat glistened his naked back, rivulets highlighting tendons and emphasizing the v of his build, licking along the deep shadow of that muscle-flanked line splitting down the middle. Even in the dead of winter, he needed no protection from the elements. No, the Iceborne was a furnace all by his lonesome, fueled by that ceaseless inner fire that bellowed with every heave. Again! The greataxe raised high, deltoids clenched and biceps bulged, every atom working in unison - thwaak! He would return to his village triumphant! This monstrosity that lurked just beyond the hungering edges of his axe shall become the new pelt wreathed around his loins, reduced to another harrowing story to tell around campfires. Like this lifeless log he split, so too, shall his foe lay wasted and fallen beneath the unconstrained power of his rage and conviction.

tl;dr: buff dude split some firewood while angry, but
hotter and with more character development. easy filler! :v
 
Last edited:

Praxis

ʙᴇᴛᴛᴇʀ ᴋɴᴏᴡɴ 𝒶𝓈 ᴍʏꜱᴇʟꜰ
Staff member
Officer
Joined
Apr 13, 2014
My advice is to get a little weird with it.

Start free associating (in character, if you can), and go from there. Are they nervous? How so, and how does that behaviour spill out into the world around them? Are they keeping a secret, are they hungry, are they wondering where they hell they put that little screwdriver that's perfect for jimmying the busted lock on the building's alley door? If the story can allow a little bit of humour, try plugging some of that in. If not, maybe have your character witness or overhear a bit of worldbuilding flare said by an NPC or read on a passing billboard.

*If you're having fun writing it, there's a good chance your partner may as well when reading. Making the story/world feel more lived in will usually benefit both reader and writer. Filler is great for that sorta thing.

* not a guarantee, some people may not get it, but is that really your problem?
 
OP
OP
Yusuke

Yusuke

Artist of Desires
Joined
Apr 14, 2021
Location
United States
this has already been somewhat covered, but i just wanted to emphasize this point - everything, everything, is an opportunity for a 'character piece.' or, a chance to flesh out your character.

this is particularly true as most roleplays tend to be 1x1s, where characterization is arguably more important than anything else. pardon my french but - what makes your character more fuckable than everyone else in that multiverse? the answer to that question goes far deeper than 'he stronk' or 'she hot'. both of those traits are dime a dozen in roleplay. what really makes the reader connects with the main cast though? it's characters that come off the sheets. characters with multi-faceted personalities, backstories that have meat and funny stories. depth, nuances, progression. the golden standard in a long-term rp is that whenever something happens (a new foe arises, an argument occurs, etc.), the reader should be able to point at your character and say, 'i think this character will behave in roughly this fashion.' would they know exactly what action or exactly what dialogue said character will do or say? no, but they should get the gist. at that point, i would say, amazing, you've successfully conveyed what you needed to convey of who she or he is

^take that last bit with a grain of salt though. if a character's response to everything is 'murderhobo it', that is predictable, but uninteresting.

besides, i've never seen anyone complain if you write an extra 200 words or so just describing how attractive your character is performing a certain action.

His battle-honed physique tightened, arms flexing like bows drawn taut. He brought the greataxe down - thunk - splitting wood with a tool unfitted for its purpose, with the unspent violence knitting his brows and clenching his teeth from a foe that yet evaded him. A waste of the sharpness of his weapon, but necessary. Stranded as they were, firewood was essential, and he would provide warmth for his unexpected allies as a show of good faith. Sweat glistened his naked back, rivulets highlighting tendons and emphasizing the inverse v of his build, licking along the deep shadow of that muscle-flanked line splitting down the middle. Even in the dead of winter, he needed no protection from the elements. No, the Iceborne was a furnace all by his lonesome, fueled by that ceaseless inner fire that bellowed with every heave. Again! The greataxe raises high, deltoids clenched and biceps bulged, every atom working in unison - thwaak! He would return to his village triumphant! This monstrosity that lurked just beyond the hungering edges of his axe shall become the new pelt wreathed around his loins, reduced to another harrowing story to tell around campfires. Like this lifeless log he split, so too, shall his foe lay wasted and fallen beneath the unconstrained power of his rage and conviction.

tl;dr: buff dude split some firewood while angry, but
hotter and with more character development. easy filler! :v
This is definitely something I already try to do. Reading a lot of advice here just makes me feel like the issues may lie deeper than what my original question is asking. I feel like the quality of my pacing and attention to long term details is where my problem really lies. I think slowing down and taking time to just dwell on the details will help a lot. I just worry it sounds like rambling to be honest but that's more just my own self-criticalness. Thanks for the advice!
 
OP
OP
Yusuke

Yusuke

Artist of Desires
Joined
Apr 14, 2021
Location
United States
My advice is to get a little weird with it.

Start free associating (in character, if you can), and go from there. Are they nervous? How so, and how does that behaviour spill out into the world around them? Are they keeping a secret, are they hungry, are they wondering where they hell they put that little screwdriver that's perfect for jimmying the busted lock on the building's alley door? If the story can allow a little bit of humour, try plugging some of that in. If not, maybe have your character witness or overhear a bit of worldbuilding flare said by an NPC or read on a passing billboard.

*If you're having fun writing it, there's a good chance your partner may as well when reading. Making the story/world feel more lived in will usually benefit both reader and writer. Filler is great for that sorta thing.

* not a guarantee, some people may not get it, but is that really your problem?
Oh I love that approach. That's just what I needed. Making a world more lived in is exactly what I'm wanting to get better at in the larger scheme of things. I like when things aren't always about the grand adventure. The characters are still people at the end of the day and they do more than fuck, fight, and drink. I like the approach of if you have fun writing it they'll have fun reading it. I will keep that advice in mind, thanks Prax!
 

Eneru

Dom Master
Joined
Dec 28, 2020
Location
Mediterranean
This is definitely something I already try to do. Reading a lot of advice here just makes me feel like the issues may lie deeper than what my original question is asking. I feel like the quality of my pacing and attention to long term details is where my problem really lies. I think slowing down and taking time to just dwell on the details will help a lot. I just worry it sounds like rambling to be honest but that's more just my own self-criticalness. Thanks for the advice!

My advice for this, since I sometimes hit mental blockades when it comes to writing and I've been there before, is to go and read a book. It may sound stupid and even cruel, but guaranteed that when you take some time to enjoy a well-versed wordsmith at their best you'll find the inspiration via new words and structures that wasn't there before. If reading isn't as much your thing, which shouldn't come as a surprise even if we are writers, then listening to well-spoken audiobooks can also help. Build up your vocabulary and arsenal, and the rest will come naturally when it comes to details and pumping your posts full of goodness.
 

Wessex

Banned
Banished
Joined
May 24, 2022
Time Skip definitely. No need to play out every second of their lives which gets very boring and fast. Then you can use Flashbacks for anything important that happened during the time skip period.

Eg: "Daphne spent the next few days trying to occupy her time. The interview for the job at the strip club went well and she got the job but she wished she could just move time forward so she could get her first shift over and done with. Finally the day arrived. She woke up feeling sick but she knew it was just nerves. Nerves that wouldn't settle until she, ironically was up on that stage undressing for the audience. What a weird predicament she had got herself in! The last hours finally passed and she was in the dressing room now of the seedy club.. it was just moments before she was announced to take the stage"
 

Saiya

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
It's all been covered here already so I'll be brief!

Filler should be areas with room for character development or exploring a characters personality. If a scene isn't accomplishing that, you are likely better off just doing a time skip. The best way I think to really make the 'filler' interesting and ensure you have character development is to purposely help create scenes that would test certain aspect of a characters personality and beliefs and make them really make difficult decisions or have to overcome personal limits.

A good class philosophical argument of the train comes to mind. A train is running down the tracks and would hit 5 people, but you can hit the switch changing tracks but causing it to hit one other person. Do you do and take 1 life to save 5 others?

A more extreme case but having moments that really test characters out and make them have to make difficult decisions where it will really make the players as a whole debate what a character would do or act. The best part of those moments that while they might not directly relate to the main plot element of the RP, it is going to have the potential to have an effect on the character and play a part in their decisions and thoughts later on for better or for worst. Obviously not all filler moments need to be big but having the moments that do pop up that test the character's reaction, or hell even test the characters between each other and their feelings with one another can really enhance the mood of the story later on.

I mean heck, "I want kids one day" with the other "I don't" after having to deal with maybe a scene having to babysit or watch over a child for some reason could really throw a curveball in a relationship in a 1x1 scenario even if the situation itself is just a footnote that might not be as significant long term for the characters.
 
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