SATW: 60 Second Travel Writer #13 – Space Fillers

Like what we wear, the way we write and talk changes. Certain things go in and out of fashion. But lately, we’ve noticed a bad fashion choice – the use of the word “so.”

Here’s a 60-Second Travel Writer Tip from LA Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm:

The word “so” we’re talking about is not the “so” that means therefore: “It rained so I took my umbrella.” Or the “so” that intensifies something. “That movie was so long.”

We’re talking about the word “so” that’s become a space filler. In interviews, you’ll often hear an exchange that goes something like this: “When did you become a travel writer?” “So, after I graduated from college, I took a gap year.”

In writing, you may encounter: “So despite a 10-run lead, the Dodgers never let up.” The sentence can stand without the “so.” It becomes a space filler in the vein of “like” or “you know.”

Think of your writing this way: You have a word budget, say, a story of 500 words. How you spend your writing capital is up to you, but using fillers like “so” is a waste. Best make expenditures on strong nouns and verbs that get right to the heart of the matter.

So…for SATW professional development, I’m Westways Travel Editor Elizabeth Harryman.