I'm one of a whole herd of writers who write a very loose and sloppy first draft, then spend months going back over it, smoothing it out, filling in the blanks, adding scenes that were skipped over in our haste to put an ending on the manuscript. One of the things that gets done during this style of writing is we use placeholders, a type of author shorthand, for various emotions. If you're an author, you know what I mean. It's a roll of the eyes, chewing on the lip, running one's hand over someone. We know there are better ways of expressing disdain, nervousness or endearment, and we'll get to it during the second, third or fourth draft of the project.
There's nothing wrong with this approach to writing, as long as, during the editing stage, you do, in fact, take the time to remove the shorthand, and in its place, add in a unique turn of phrase to convey what you mean.
My crutch seems to be running one's hand down, over, into another person. And I never realized it until I was going through my latest round of edits from my publisher. My first editor didn't flag my constant use of the crutch, but the second one pointed out each and every one. And boy, there were a ton! This is romance, so some touching is to be expected. But, I overused. I relied on the running of hands to convey they sense of touch, when there are so many other ways to get the point across, if I'd only taken the time.
Needless to say, I did take the time in this round of edits to eliminate my author shorthand, and to insert other ways to get my point across. Now I have one more thing to add to my author checklist–don't overuse running of the hands. Once or twice in a story is fine, but beyond that, it should be avoided.
How about you? What author shorthand do you have, if any? Are you aware of it when you're using it? At what point do you go back and fill in the shorthand with what you really meant to say?