Synonyms help prevent your readers from getting bored.
In the book I read last week, the author had every single character “push to their feet” at least three times in each chapter. I started getting annoyed by the tenth time. The characters never rose to their feet, eased, or even shoved. And seriously, if you are standing up, why does the author have to mention feet almost every time? Isn’t it implied they are on their feet? Nope, they all pushed to their feet. Anyway, I digress.
Do you need to use synonyms every single time? No. You should NOT use them every time. But avoiding that type of repetition will not only make your manuscript more interesting and precise.
I’m in the process of rereading the first twenty-three chapters of The Fallen: Part Two. As I have been perusing the pages of my first draft, I’ve been finding some word repetition. The problem with overusing a word, is that it becomes distracting to the reader.
I remember reading a book recently where the author used the word swung for everything. I swung into the car. I swung my legs out of bed. I swung around the corner. I swung my arms… well, you get the point. I got so irritated every time I saw the word swung, that it distracted me from the story itself, and this was a NY Times bestseller! I am not saying that I am perfect, but I do work really hard to avoid repetition (having a lot of beta readers helps).
During this go through, I found that I was overusing the word whisper, so I created a word list for myself. I decided to go ahead and share it. Enjoy! And go forth and use synonyms!