Filler in storytelling - filling in the blanks

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015, she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod, after which she created the author's course "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" on its basis. More than 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by training, she is very quick to master new fields. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in films/series, about which she writes in the blog of her project.
In storytelling, a filler is a plot element that is not directly related to the main story and serves as an excerpt to fill time or simply create atmosphere. Fillers are usually used to develop characters, create scenery, entertain the audience, or keep the story interesting.

An example of a filler might be an episode of a show where the main characters are just spending time together, doing something minor or chatting about everyday things. This can be enjoyable and amusing for the viewers, but is not necessary for the development of the plot.

Fillers especially often start to appear towards the end of the series.

In The Walking Dead, for example, seasons 6-9 there are many episodes that tell the story of one character or show the interaction of two, but it does not affect the main plot in any way. Conventionally, in one episode we see Carol and Daryl hunting, and it characterizes them and their relationship well, but doesn't carry a minute of events that would change the main storyline.

The same thing happens after season 3 of Stranger Things: we see Claire and Jamie in America meeting different people, encountering different misadventures, such as rescuing a little girl from a troubled family. But if this series hadn't happened, nothing in the story of the time traveler and her family would have changed.

In the large-scale procedural "Castle", on the other hand, there's an entire series at all, consisting only of flashbacks and footage from other series. Which is definitely a filler, too.
A well-written filler can help the viewer delve more deeply into the world and experiences of the characters. For example, in the movie Titanic, there are several scenes that do not directly relate to the main story, but allow the viewer to better understand the culture and society of the time, as well as the feelings of the main characters. Such moments can strengthen the viewer's emotional connection to the characters and make their reactions to events more understandable.

However, fillers can also cause the plot to drag on and become slow-paced. They should be used wisely and not overused so as not to bore the viewer.

In summary, fillers can be a useful tool for creating atmosphere and a deeper character history in storytelling, but they should not be overused, as an abundance of fillers is still an indicator of a story that has outlived its usefulness.