Language is a peculiar thing. It is fluid and organic, always changing and evolving. You can say the same thing using a different set of words. Tweaking your word choice can attach a different connotation to the particular phrase. Unfortunately, this makes it easy to have fillers and meaningless words in our writing without even knowing it. We need to learn to spot these filler words so we can tweak them into exactly what we mean to say exactly how we want to say them. Each word is important. Don’t let fillers sabotage the robustness of your idea! Here is a self editing (for fiction) checklist of words to watch.
‘Said’ is one of the most overused words in reported speech. Oh how I loathe this word. I realize my distaste is a bit subjective but for the editors who don’t mind the word still report it as being overused. This word is so ingrained in our writing dating back to those elementary school short stories. There are several descriptive words that you can use instead of “said”. For example, exclaimed, replied, retorted, and whispered and a million others.
An even better option is to rewrite your sentence having cut the word out completely and replace the word with an action.
Instead of: “You shut your fat, ugly face, ya backstabbing hussy!” Natzu said.
Try this: “You shut your fat, ugly face, ya backstabbing hussy!” Natzu grabbed Gray’s shirt and threw him across the mess hall.
See how I completely shaped a story out of a few words just by replacing the word said? You can add so much to your story by replacing this word. And yes, I stole Natzu and Gray from Fairy Tale, my favorite Anime. You should watch it.