For this week’s article, I was given a strong suggestion to write something related to Stetson's homecoming, so that our Stetson chapter of Odyssey would have a “theme”—a novel idea in concept, but maybe not with this theme. Granted, this website is based on college campuses around the nation, meaning many articles will be about Stetson or any topic relatable for college students, but I, for one, am not all about homecoming. Yes, I grew up in the South, but football was never a huge deal in my life. It still isn't. Everyone has their own opinion about homecoming events, and mine is that I do not particularly care for them.
When I expressed my thoughts on writing about homecoming, I was assured that I did not have to write about homecoming if I really did not wish to, though I’m not sure why it wouldn’t be okay to write something else. I was then asked to try writing something of importance and not to write a “fluff” piece, due to the fact that a lot is happening in our school and nationally. Friday night, as I was trying to fall asleep, a thought hit me. It was one of those late-night, deep, philosophical questions—or maybe it just seemed philosophical at the time.
What defines a “fluff” piece? In my mind, articles themed around Stetson homecoming—ironic, I know, since I'm including this week-long ordeal in my article—are fluff pieces. Other people might not agree. That does not mean my thoughts or other people’s thoughts are wrong; they are simply different. Respecting each other's beliefs and opinions is important, because it helps us understand diversity.
What exactly is a fluff piece? A listicle (article comprised of bullet points and images)? An article about homecoming? Some seemingly nonsensical article? How does one truly define fluff? In academic papers, it might be unnecessary words that make the paper longer, such as excessively using prepositions, adjectives, the word "very," long opening phrases, quotes that include too much from the source, overly precise explanations that leave no room for interpretations, writing phrases or clauses when one word is more suitable, and so much more. In an Odyssey article, fluff could include some of the same items I listed for academic papers. But for an entire article to be considered fluff? What does that include? I would think that an article someone is taking time to write to publish online would not be fluff.
For fun, I looked up the definition of “fluff,” and the third point on Merriam-Webster states, “something inconsequential.” That was extremely helpful. (Note the sarcasm.) I reiterate, how does one define what is inconsequential to the writer of the article? Some of my English professors, specifically those teaching creative writing courses, have often said that, as writers, we sometimes have to “kill our darlings.” That phrase means we have to—no matter how much pain it causes us—delete sentences, paragraphs, or sections that we love and that we are proud of creating, because they are extraneous. We then move them to another document for safekeeping, in hopes that we might use them another day.
So how does one determine what is fluff or inconsequential? Who defines that line? Is this piece about trying to understand what a fluff piece is fluff?