Let me introduce you to…And, It, Was, That, Then.
These can be nasty habits writers overuse in their stories. Some can come to rely on them without even realizing it.
After you’re done creating your work of art, take a few days away from it. Give yourself a break before going through your self-editing round. Then do a search and find for these repeat offenders. Doing this will not only save you and your editor valuable time later, but they will love and remember you for taking the initiative. The goal is to keep these words to a minimum. Shoot for a number as close to your page count as you can.
Now obviously, taking out ‘And’ is not an easy task, especially when nine times out of ten you’re using it in an action sentence. You need to ask yourself if showing this action is truly necessary, then ask yourself if there is another way to say what’s happening, if using the character’s deep point of view would sound better for what you’re trying to say to your reader. The same can be said for the rest of our little villains. See if you can replace the word with something from our helpful friend the Thesaurus, or even if said word is needed at all.
A good way to remember our repeat offenders is to think of them as a sentence…And it was that then. Keeping them in mind this way, along with a little practice, will keep you from relying on them in the future.
Please don’t forget the occasionally repeated words during this process as well, those words that stick out at you as you’re reading through the self-editing stage. Examples of these words are things like gasped, and/or any item word like table or door in a paragraph, any action a character constantly repeats to the point it’s distracting, and the use of pronouns, etc. The point is to strive to not repeat words but to entertain and keep your reader’s attention.