If you're revising, there's a good chance you've heard writing professionals talk about cutting out filter words. Filter words are words that authors insert that distance the reader from the scene. Instead of telling a reader what the character is seeing, for example, an author has the character stop the action to tell the reader what they're seeing. Filtering might look like this:
I saw the cat race through the hallway.
See how instead of describing what I saw in the moment, I'm stopping to talk to you as if you're here? That's part of why filtering words are such a problem. They can break the flow of the narrative and break that fourth wall, if you'll pardon the metaphor, reminding the reader that they're reading a story.
So how can I fix it? Start by eliminating the "I saw" portion and focus on the character's perceptions instead. That might look like this:
A white and gray blur tore down the hallway, leaving shredded blue strands in her wake.
Not only have I eliminated the filtering language, I used much more descriptive language, which is hopefully more interesting than the original. And as a bonus, you might get the impression that I'm a bit annoyed with my cat tonight. Emotion+description makes a more interesting passage and engages the reader, which is always the goal.
An easy way to find filtering words is to look for the 5 senses, as well as things like "she thought/realized/understood."
To fix up filtering passages, eliminate the "I saw/heard/etc" portion and simply tell the reader, in the POV character's voice, what they saw or heard.
Personally, I don't believe you have to eliminate 100% of filtering language. Most of it, yes. But there are times where a straightforward, shorter sentence is better. Try to use filtering language sparingly, and mix it up with more interesting and active language to keep your readers engaged.
Every Wednesday we bring you an edit tip of the day and on Mondays throughout the summer a series of SHOW DON'T TELL workshops!