As I’ve commented before, I listen to the Writing Excuses podcast, and I’ve been going over some of their past episodes. (They’re now in their 14th year, and the show runs weekly; that means a lot of past episodes.)
The following brilliant tip came from Brandon Sanderson in Season 12. He said when he starts revising a manuscript, he does a global replace on words he tends to overuse, changing each occurrence to the same word in brackets. For example, he might change “very” into “[very]”.
This ensures he doesn’t just slide past the word when he’s reading through the text. The brackets force him to review every instance, and to decide whether it’s needed or just filler. Once in a while, such words add to the writing, but most of the time, they’re just cruft.
So now I intend to do the same thing with my latest manuscript; I may even write a macro to cover all the words I usually ought to delete:
very quite a little a bit a lot just suddenly quickly almost probably likely
I’m sure I’ll add more to that list in the next day or two. In the meantime, I was so impressed with this trick, I wanted to pass it on immediately.