"One of my favorite pieces of writing advice is from Elmore Leonard: Take out everything that sounds like writing. Here's an example "his gaze wandered to the television."
This gave me pause. Dialogue, character development, and descriptions are my strong suit, but I cannot for the life of me get a proper handle on action sentences like this, particularly when they're surrounding dialogue.
How would you propose a fix for this sentence, if it's not a throwaway line and the character had to look at the television for plot purposes?
Words are your tools. You have to know what they mean, and sometimes what you think they mean isn't right. Gaze for example.
Gaze means to look intently, steadily. Thus a gaze by definition doesn't wander (ie move randomly.)
And "his gaze wandered to the television" is clunky. He looked at the television is better, or just the television blared.
What I drew from the query is that the writer did not know the difference between "gaze" and "look."
It's an easy mistake.
I have a couple words that I err on. You've all seen me write "woop and warf" which is not only not correct, it's really REALLY wrong. Somehow I have woop and warf describing the weave of a rug in place of warp and weft. I have no idea how woop and warf got stuck in my mind, but it's taken some pretty pointed side-eye gazes (!!) from the readers here to flag that phrase as one I need to verify before hitting "publish" on a post.
"Reading the dictionary" is the punchline to more than one joke, but as a writer, reading the dictionary is actually a pretty good use of time.