As Opposed to What?
Here is a snark-tastic way to reduce a few excess/redundant words, and make life easier for your editors. Consider a few key phrases and then ask yourself, “As opposed to what?” While there are always exceptions where keeping all the words works better, it’s true in most cases that the excess can be removed.
You might think, “What’s the harm?” But excess words can be unwieldy to a reader and make them less inclined to want to keep reading. Trim the fat so you can really make the meat of your piece shine.
He nodded his head.
As opposed to what? He nodded his foot? “Nodded” implies head and you usually don’t need to tell the reader that.
She shrugged her shoulders.
As opposed to what? People might shrug out of a coat, but usually don’t shrug other body parts.
He pointed his finger.
Unless you specifically say they pointed with something else, people will assume the finger was what had been pointed with.
She dismounted her horse.
If you’ve already explained that your character is riding a horse, they don’t need to hear it again.
He thought to himself.
Unless there is telepathy in your book, you can presume that thoughts were to themselves and not to anyone else.
She peered her head around.
As opposed to what? What else do you usually peer with? Your toes?
He reached out his hand.
This one can be closer to fifty-fifty, but typically, like with pointing, unless you say otherwise, your reader will assume the hand was reached out with.
She blinked her eyes.
I’m not really sure you blink anything else?