This month I’m sharing some writing tips from my freelance editor, Sarah Cypher, all of which she offered in my last critique.
Eliminate verbs of awareness where possible (e.g., she thought, wondered, looked at, felt, believed, etc.). "VOAs" are reminders that it's the character who is perceiving these things, which we already know because the scene is from his or her point of view. VOAs are an extra, unneeded layer between the reader and the fictive dream. Sometimes they're useful, but often can be cut.
As you polish, look for present participles and revise them out. There’s nothing wrong with them (unless they set up two actions that can’t happen at the same time)—but it’s a fallback form when writers work in a hurry. When I see it a lot, I sense the writing could use a good tightening.
If the handling of bodies, expressions, and reactions is generally pretty straightforward (“She looked confused”, “He frowned”), do more with physical descriptions. Push your characters into our imagination with vivid descriptions.