1. My characters are always looking somewhere. “Miles looked at…” “Lady Banston eyed the…” “Mady looked at…” As most of the POV is from Miles’s POV, then it’s pretty obvious most of the time that he is doing the looking, no?
2. Characters are turning to look at something (even worse than simply “looking”). “Alex turned to look at…” *shudders* This might be a problem of writing the story as if it were a movie or TV show translated from my mind, where actors invest the characters with life and are pointedly looking at something or moving their heads to see a person. That doesn’t work in a novel.
3. Walking. “Miles walked to…” “Alex walked back to…” Yes, walking is essential to life and all, and they would have walked much more in 1800, but walking is not a very exciting verb. Striding. Running. Jogging. Loping. Hoofing. Taking mincing steps. All much more descriptive than walking. You know what’s even worse than simply “walking?” “Walking toward.”
4. Taking carriage rides. We don’t need to see every single carriage ride. It’s not like I’d write a contemporary story and always describe them in the car, unless it was essential to plot.
5. Sighing. Think about it. How often do you sigh at any given point of the day?
6. Saying “rather.” “You look rather pensive.” This might be my way of writing in British understatement. It’s a bit annoying (“bit” being another example) after “quite” a while. “Terribly.”
7. Becoming integrated into their village too quickly. Seriously. One minute we’re acquaintances with the village gossiping about you, next we’re chatting away as if we’ve known each other for years?
8. There’s more, but I can’t think of it all.