Do you have overused words? I do. Looked is one of mine, when I could use stared, glanced, glared, gaped, gazed (wow, lots of g words). Sometimes the quickest way to find a fresh replacement is to use a thesaurus. No need for big heavy books on your shelf, there are these great online ones.
VISUWORDS - This is a more graphic way of viewing words, you're provided with the synonyms, opposites, verb groups etc in a brainstorming style map.THESAURUS.COM - exactly what you'd expect from a thesaurus.
Remember a few rules for thesaurus surfing:
- Only use the words that stay true to the voice of your narrator or character. Don't use big long fancy words for the voice of a young child.
- Check your spelling - a lot of the online sites are US spelling, so double check you have a UK site if you need that (or your computer might pick it up).
- Don't overuse the variety in words. Sometimes a character can just walk, in one stroll they shouldn't wander, trudge, storm, stomp, tread and race. The reader will get exhausted!