A reminder to myself. Be specific.
When I’m cleaning up my stories, I go through and search for the word “looked” because I frequently use it as shorthand for generic body language.
For example, “The AI looked genuinely unhappy”
Okay… what specific piece of body language does my POV character recognize as looking genuinely unhappy? If I take a moment and picture the scene in my head, I can pick one element and describe that to create a more specific image. For instance, “The droop of the A.I.’s eyes drew a portrait of genuine unhappiness.”
Another example from a different story. “She looked away.”
Uh-huh… what exactly did she look at? “She pressed her face against the mattress and would have counted every fibre in the cotton ticking rather than face him.”
It’s way too easy to let the generic stuff slide because it isn’t actually broken but it also isn’t working as hard as it could.