One of the best pieces of advice I ever read came from a literary agent question and answer page about how to submit a query. I have no recollection of who the agent was, but her advice stuck with me. She said that before sending in any work, look it over and check for the word ‘that.’ It is an overused word which most times can be removed and have no affect on the sentence.
She told the writers to read the sentence out loud without the word ‘that’ in it. If the sentence needed the word then it could be replaced with which or something else. But sometimes ‘that’ is the best word.
I went through my WIP and saw that I had gravely overused the word. A major thatectomy was undertaken. I was surprised such a small change could make a huge difference in the word count.
Is there a word you overuse? ‘Just’ perhaps? I’m guilty there too.