So I started a list of words to look for. Words that can be weak when used one way, but are okay in another. For this list, I also included words that can be used instead. Synonyms. In some cases, the synonym is more descriptive and a much stronger word. For instance, I tend to pick up on the word "walk". Now using the word walk is perfectly okay. But think about it - when we say that a person walked into the room, unless we know that character very well, we don't know how he entered the room. It is much more descriptive to say he swaggered, staggered, strolled, strode, tiptoed, crept or any of a dozen other ways to describe his way of walking. Each one of these synonyms is more exact and gives us a specific picture of the way the person is moving--and a specific tone to the scene.
No, you don't need to change every word. In some cases, the original word works just fine. But when doing an edit, go through your work and see if you can find a stronger word to replace the one you used. Get a good thesaurus and go to town.
Some of the words on our list:
Birthdays: Niccolo Machiavelli, Jacob Riis, William Inge
Tips and Teasers: Go through your WIP and make sure you don’t mix tenses. Most writing is done in past tense (They went to the store. I passed the speeding car.) If your character says “I carried her books.”, then switches to “We walk (instead of walked) to her house.” This is a switch in tenses.
Thought for the day: "Writing about an idea frees me of it. Thinking about it is a circle of repetitions." – Mason Cooley