Writing is the delicate process of stringing words together in an order that appeals to the reader.
On this note, there are several words that can be largely eliminated from pros. A few are below.
-Had – Unless meant in the past tense of have (“I have a pen” “I had a pen”) this three letter word usually isn’t necessary.
-That – This word can be eliminated pretty often. “I was worried that it wouldn’t work.” Or “I was worried it wouldn’t work.”
-Was – Mainly as a helping verb. There are times you can’t help it. “It was on my left.” K, now a situation where it can be helped. “I was feeling lost.” “I felt lost.” In this situation “I was lost” also works, but, when in doubt, use the stronger verb.
-Could – “I could if I wanted to.” That’s fine. “I could hear you.” Try “I heard you.”
Generally, helping verbs make sentences weaker. While “I was driving” is a perfectly respectable sentence, when writing pros “I drove” equals fewer words and a more vivid picture.