1. Look for words that are redundant or indefinite.
• BACK - He turned back… He turned… She eased back into her chair, letting out a sigh that hissed exasperation.
• UP (when the direction is obvious) - He jumped up onto the porch. Better: He jumped onto the porch.
• DOWN (when the direction is obvious) - He looked down at this feet. Better: He looked at his feet.
• Don't fly (over, across, up, down, north, south, east, west) to Atlanta. Simply fly to Atlanta. You usually can't tell which direction you're going in an airplane, anyhow.
2. Define indefinite words.
• Reconsider your use of IT, THEY, SOME, MANY, FEW
• Name the object. Who are they? Quantify some, many and few.
• If you mention an animal, don’t refer to the creature as a cat, dog, horse, etc. Give the specific breed, sex, color, etc.
• If you mention a car, give the make, model, color, etc.
• If you mention time, define the duration--ten minutes or whatever.
3. Check for those words that occur frequently throughout the manuscript and substitute another similar word.
• WALKED – try strode, ambled, sauntered, strolled, shuffled, staggered, etc.
• RAN – try jogged, scurried, scampered, hurried, dashed, rushed, loped, etc.
• CRIED -- whimpered, sobbed, sniveled, bawled, wailed, blubbered, howled, etc.
4. Consider your adjectives.
• Are they bland? Why? Choose adjectives that will and play on the senses and add sparkle to the text.
• COLD – How cold? Icy, bone-chilling, numbing, frosty, artic.
• HOT – How hot? Blistering, broiling, sizzling, scalding.
5. Tighten the manuscript further.
• Check for words such as FELT, FIGURED, and HEARD. Omit these words by explaining how the character felt and what he heard or saw. You don’t need to indicate a character looked at someone before speaking. That’s assumed. However, if the character looked away, this might indicate the character’s receptiveness.
• Search for these words: STARTED, BEGAN, KNEW, REALIZED, APPEARED. You don’t need these words to introduce an action.
• She knew John lied. Better to say: John lied. POV tells us she knew.
• She started to cross the room. Better to say: She crossed the room
• She knew he hated her. Better to say: He hated her.