Often overpowered by more dramatic story moments, filler scenes hold immense power in setting tone, developing characters, and keeping the reader engaged.
Here’s how to write filler scenes:
Write filler scenes by focusing on character development, setting mood, and foreshadowing. They should engage senses, be interesting, and stay true to characters. Common types include internal reflection, comic relief, and dreams. They bridge main events, adding depth and richness to stories.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to write filler scenes.
What Are Filler Scenes?
Filler scenes are segments in a story that do not directly push the main plot forward but are essential in building the world, character depth, and tone of the narrative.
Think of them as the “story glue” that binds the major plot points, ensuring a smooth transition and a cohesive storyline.
When I started out writing, I assumed filler scenes were mere fluff or unnecessary additions.
However, when done right, they are far from being extraneous.
These scenes provide a breathing space, allowing readers to digest major events while remaining engaged and connected to the story.
10 Different Kinds of Filler Scenes
There is more than one kind of filler scene.
Let’s look at 10 different types of filler scenes that you can add into your stories.
1. Character Backstory
Peeling back the layers of a character’s past can be a treasure trove of emotions, motivations, and insights.
Such scenes allow readers a glimpse behind the curtain, understanding why a character thinks or acts in a particular way.
These moments, although not directly connected to the primary narrative, add depth, making characters more relatable and multi-dimensional.
Every story, especially in genres like fantasy or sci-fi, demands a robust setting.
Filler scenes dedicated to world-building immerse readers into the environment, detailing its history, culture, or societal norms.
It’s like painting a backdrop against which the main action unfolds.
Without this depth, the world can feel flat or unconvincing.
3. Character Interactions
Sometimes, it’s the simple, mundane moments that reveal the most about a relationship.
A shared joke, a casual chat, or even a heated argument can shed light on character dynamics.
These scenes, while not plot-driven, solidify bonds or tensions between characters, making their interactions in crucial moments more believable.
4. Internal Reflection
Diving deep into a character’s mind offers readers a unique intimacy.
These scenes focus on introspection.
They allow a character to grapple with their emotions, fears, hopes, and dilemmas.
While they might momentarily pause the action, they bring forward the internal conflicts, making the narrative more relatable.
The beauty of such scenes is in their vulnerability, showcasing a character’s growth or their internal battles.
5. Setting the Mood
Some scenes serve the singular purpose of evoking an emotion.
A melancholic sunset, a jubilant festival in the town square, or an eerie walk through a fog-laden forest can set the mood.
While they might not directly impact the plot, they create an atmosphere.
They prepare the reader for what’s to come or allowing a momentary emotional immersion.
Hints, clues, or subtle nudges about events to come can be weaved through filler scenes.
These might seem innocuous at first, but in retrospect, they add a layer of intrigue.
Such scenes keep readers on their toes, looking for connections and trying to predict future turns.
7. Comic Relief
Every narrative, regardless of its gravitas, benefits from moments of levity.
Scenes that infuse humor or playfulness, especially after intense events, offer readers a welcome reprieve.
They lighten the mood, endearing characters further and making the story more well-rounded.
8. Symbolic Imagery
Symbols can be powerful narrative tools.
Filler scenes that revolve around recurring motifs or symbolic events can amplify a story’s themes or foreshadow future events.
Such scenes require a delicate touch, ensuring the symbolism doesn’t feel forced but naturally integrates into the narrative.
9. Routine Activities
Witnessing characters in their everyday routines can be surprisingly revealing.
Such scenes showcase habits, quirks, or mundane activities that ground the character, making them more real and relatable to the reader.
10. Dream Sequences
A character’s subconscious can offer a playground for the imaginative writer.
Dreams can be surreal, symbolic, or even prophetic. They allow for creative freedom while adding layers of meaning, intrigue, or character insight.
10 Best Tips on Writing Filler Scenes
Behind every great story is…another story. 🎭
Filler scenes are those sneaky little moments that don’t scream for attention but stealthily weave the narrative fabric tighter.
They’re the secret ingredient, the narrative’s unsalted butter, if you will.
Here’s how to knead them into your story just right, ensuring your tale rises to perfection.
Let the storytelling culinary class commence.
1. Always Have a Purpose
It’s easy to get carried away and pen down scenes that seem interesting but don’t add to the story.
However, every filler scene should justify its existence.
Whether it’s to shed light on a character’s psyche, enhance the world, or set a particular mood, the scene should add a layer to the narrative.
Without purpose, a filler scene risks feeling out of place or, worse, boring.
2. Maintain Consistency
A story’s tone and pace are its heartbeat.
Even in filler scenes, maintaining this consistency is paramount.
While it’s tempting to experiment, a sudden shift in tone can be jarring.
These scenes, though separate from the main plot, should feel like they belong in the same universe and narrative, complementing rather than contrasting the overall story.
3. Less is More
In the world of filler scenes, brevity can be a writer’s best friend.
Although it’s essential to provide depth, it’s equally crucial not to meander.
A filler scene should be concise, offering insights without becoming a drag. Remember, it’s a bridge, not an island.
4. Engage the Senses
To make filler scenes truly immersive, appeal to the reader’s senses.
Describe not just what’s seen, but the ambient sounds, the scents in the air, the tactile sensations.
This multi-sensory immersion can transport readers, making them feel present in the scene.
5. Balance is Key
While filler scenes are essential, they shouldn’t dominate the narrative.
Find a balance between main plot points and these connective moments. Too many filler scenes can dilute the main plot’s intensity, while too few can make the story feel rushed or disjointed.
6. Use Dialogue Wisely
Filler scenes often rely on dialogue, but it’s essential to ensure these conversations feel natural and purposeful.
Avoid exposition dumps or forced interactions
Instead, let characters speak in their authentic voices, revealing nuances about themselves or the world around them.
7. Keep the Pace
Even in moments of reflection or world-building, it’s essential to maintain a narrative pace.
A filler scene shouldn’t bring the story to a grinding halt but should flow seamlessly, propelling the reader forward, even if subtly.
8. Stay True to Characters
Every filler scene should align with character personalities and motivations.
If a character suddenly behaves out of character, it can be jarring. Ensure consistency in actions, words, and decisions.
9. Relevance Matters
Even if a filler scene isn’t advancing the main plot, it should still be relevant to the broader narrative or character arcs.
Avoid adding scenes merely for the sake of length or diversion.
Each scene should feel like a piece of the larger puzzle.
10. Be Interesting
Filler does not equal boredom.
While a filler scene might not have the heart-thumping excitement of a car chase or the dramatic reveal of a secret, it can still be deeply captivating.
Think of these scenes as a slow dance rather than a rock concert — both have their rhythm and allure.
Dive deep into character quirks, introduce engaging subplots, or craft a beautifully descriptive setting.
Engage your reader’s curiosity, tickle their funny bone, or tug at their heartstrings.
An engaging filler scene can sometimes be more memorable than a major plot point.
Check out this video with more helpful tips for how to write filler scenes in your stories:
Examples of Filler Scenes in Different Genres
Read through these examples of filler scenes.
Sometimes you can learn more about how to write filler scenes by reading examples than any other way.
In the heart of a bustling city, at a corner café known for its world-class macarons, Anna and Michael find themselves sharing stories of their childhood.
As Anna talks about her summers spent in the French countryside, with the smell of lavender in the air and the sound of cicadas in the distance, Michael reminisces about his adventures in the narrow lanes of Venice, where he once got lost and found a hidden mask shop. Neither speaks about the growing tension between them, the undeniable pull of attraction.
But in sharing these memories, they find common ground, drawing parallels between their experiences and values. This scene, while not advancing their romantic plot directly, builds a foundation of shared memories and a deeper connection.
As Lyria journeys through the mystical lands of Eldoria, she encounters an ancient tree, its bark etched with symbols older than time itself.
Beneath its shade sits an elder, her eyes reflecting centuries of wisdom. Sensing Lyria’s curiosity, the elder narrates the history of the realm. She speaks of fierce dragons that once ruled the skies, of valiant knights who tamed these beasts, and of the great magic that binds the land.
Lyria, spellbound, drinks in every word.
This filler scene, while not propelling the main quest, paints a rich tapestry of Eldoria’s history, setting the stage for future events and challenges.
Detective Raines, after a long day of chasing leads, decides to take a break at his favorite old-school diner.
As he sips on his black coffee, a stranger, an old man with a weathered face and a twinkle in his eye, strikes up a conversation. They talk about the city, its changing skyline, and the stories embedded in its walls. The old man, almost in passing, mentions an unsolved case from decades ago, drawing parallels with Raines’ current investigation.
The detective listens, intrigued but not giving much away. While the chat seems inconsequential, the subtleties hint at connections that become pivotal later in the narrative.
4. Science Fiction
Captain Elara of the spaceship “Voyager” takes a momentary break from her mission.
She enters a holographic chamber, selecting a program that replicates Earth’s beaches, a planet she’s never visited but only heard stories of. As the simulated waves crash against her feet and the synthetic sun warms her skin, Elara reflects on humanity’s past, their home planet, and the vastness of the universe.
This scene doesn’t involve alien encounters or space battles, but it roots the story in nostalgia, highlighting the sacrifices of space exploration and the yearning for home.
5. Historical Fiction
Amid the grandeur of the Renaissance era, young Isabella, a painter’s apprentice, finds herself wandering the markets of Florence.
She marvels at the vibrant colors of fabrics, the scent of fresh bread, and the cacophony of traders haggling. As she stops to watch a puppet show, she strikes a conversation with another onlooker, a soldier with stories from far-off lands. They exchange tales, offering readers a panoramic view of the world during that period.
While this interaction doesn’t influence the main events, it provides a vivid snapshot of daily life in Renaissance Florence, grounding the story in its era.
Final Thoughts: How to Write Filler Scenes
Filler scenes not only enhance the narrative depth.
They also offer readers a moment to breathe, connect, and immerse themselves in the story’s world.