Okay, I’ve finished the easy part of my last round of revisions, which included deleting hella shruggeds as I’ve mentioned. It was an interesting exercise since shrugs can stand for so many things: disgust, dismissal, confusion, reticence, flirtatiousness. Finding fresher, more specific ways to say “she shrugged” ended up costing me more words, but gave me better flow & characterization. (I hope). I think my personal favorite (which probably means I should delete it — kill your darlings!) was a defeated shrug which I replaced with “bracketed his temples with his spread fingers.”
So, writers, a challenge. Give me your evil pet phrases and the shiny new phrases which replaced them (along with a link to your deathless prose) and I’ll compile and post the list in some neat & tidy form. It will be our updated Writers’ Guide to Kicking the Ass of Lazy Language.
To get you started, consider my other evil pet phrases… Turned. Gazed. Glanced. Smiled. Breathed. Scowled. Stepped.