@Ross at Play
To EB: I think all of us here would like to see that list.
The change has slowly developed as a result from a number of friends and editors. One is retired, they did professional writing of text books, technical books, and academic papers. The advice they gave me was along the lines of this is what always annoyed me about having to do it that way when writing things. Much of the rest came from my main editors: Jim7, Dan, and The Rev. It was an accumulation of the things they often spotted as causing confusion in the meaning of what I was saying. The last came from a friend who read a few of my books, and pointed out how often I was using certain words, way too often, so I have to replace a lot of them with alternative options: the top ones being and, as, because.
For clarity, the two biggest are to ensure all uses of a proper noun with an apostrophe 's' are possessive and not a contraction, plus the uniform use of a comma before every use of the following words that appear in a sentence, and not as the first word: and, but, because.
The next big one is to replace as many of the uses of the word as with alternatives like since, because, while, when - whichever makes the most sense for the sentence. This doesn't mean remove them all, just 85+% of them. Similarly, look closely at how frequently I use any word within the same sentence or paragraph, and look for variants to minimise usage close together. Some common words are exempt from this rule, like 'the.'
If a sentence you normally see the word 'that' in still makes clear sense with 'that' removed, take it out. This is a good thing you can do in vernacular English, but causes issues with formal English. Check the uniformity of the contractions used.
Minimise the use of commas to where they have to be. Too often you see commas that actually fragment a sentence because the writer has taken the advice to separate thoughts with a comma. However, a thought will often flow into the next and they make more sense when left as one flow. The most common use is when s paragraph or sentence opens up with a few words to identify the place or time before going on with what's happening. Example: On Saturday, Fred went out, to the ball game. - On Saturday Fred went out to the ball game. In the first the thoughts of the time, the action, and the place are split by commas, it almost comes at as a first reader text, while the second flows on with it all as one item.
Another is to review and the use of words like 'he,' 'him,' 'his,' 'she,' etc to ensure the can be no confusion over who it relates to. If there may be confusion, replace with the person's name. A common situation is where two people are spoken of in the same narrative section. To deal with this I now assume the use of a pronoun refers to the very last name used, if it doesn't I replace it with the person's name. Often it's not needed, but it does ensure a higher level of clarity.
In some areas I've been a bit sparse with descriptions and adjectives, a few are expanded, and some where they were a bit long are being shortened. Ensure the correct tense is used throughout the whole story.
Very long complex sentence are being reviewed and rewritten to be shorter, often cut into two. Better use of semi-colons and colons, especially when using them to provide extra information about what was just mentioned, and complex lists.
Some of the early stuff is a mix of formal English and vernacular English, thus they need to be cleaned up. Also, some early stuff has mixed tenses that need fixing.
The aim is to be more free flowing in the reading, and to ensure the total clarity of the meaning of what's written.
edit to add: This is what I found I needed to fix, and I hope it helps others, but please do not take it as instruction for on high. No one can give you perfect advice on how best to write for you, like me, they just say This is what works for me.
extra edit: I have noticed a few stories that have been cleaned up have actually had their scores go up a little.
One other point. When we started writing Cazna and I wrote in the exact same style because we often collaborated and discussed how to write. I've started on revising his work as well, the short stories are with an editor right now. So if you look at some of his stories and some of mine, you should see a difference in the style, right now. Hopefully that will change as I revise them properly. I did revise them a little a few years back, but more so in the current round.