- managed to
- swallowed hard
- Leading participial phrases, such as: "Turning my head, I saw Cali's face beside mine." (This one has both a leading participial phrase AND the word saw.)
None of these words are bad and I'm not saying they should never be used. I'm far from being a writing expert, but I like to share what I learn as I go. Any of these, used too often, can weaken the narrative and make it read as too repetitive or redundant.
Like "stand up", for instance. You don't need the "up". If you stand, of course, you're moving UP, so it's redundant to use them both together.
Please feel free to share your own overused words and tips to eliminate them to make for cleaner writing.