Greetings, minions. I come to you from the depths of a land known as 'line edits,' where I shall return after writing this post. But I also come bearing wisdom (or, as my alter ego would say, observations).
There are a
Red light words (delete, delete, delete)
Rather: as a description, not as a synonym for 'instead'
Yellow light words (depends on the situation)
That: You don't always need it to connect two clauses. Sometimes, yes. If it makes sense without it, no.
Non-Said Words: Don't avoid the word said. Using other words is fine, but be careful how many whispers, snaps, and screams you have in your manuscript.
By: May indicate passive voice.
Being verbs: You need being verbs, but when you don't, don't use them.
Have: Similar to being verbs
Just: You can delete it 80% of the time
Of after Prepositions: Sometimes you need it, sometimes you don't.
Then: I'd bet money you overuse it. Everyone does.
Begin to: 98% of the time useless
Looks: To describe something, it's a secret being verb
Seems: Secret being verb
Don't think this means you can check your manuscript for these and ignore other problems, but these serve as a good check list before you hit send.