How often do you stop to decide between two different sentences that mean the exact same thing? How do you decide which one to use? For instance, would you choose “That gave me pause” or “That surprised me”, and why?
It fully depends on the style of speaking my character has. If I’m stuck between two sentences I need to set aside my own speaking style and figure out which one better fits my character. Also, I need to make sure the sentence fits with my writing style as well. For me its all about maintaining consistency and ensuring that my style stays consistent and so does the characters way of thinking and speaking.
It depends on the setting and the writing style. If it goes with my character and the paragraph, I go with it.
Twice. Zero times during the first draft; just write and don’t think too much. Once during draft editing. And the second time during post/final editing after beta readers and editors marked it up (this stage is also known as the full rewrite before starting all over again. )
It really just depends on the context, and what descriptors you’ve already used recently in the writing. Did you narrate “That surprised me” a chapter ago? A chapter ago is 10 minutes to an avid reader - they’ll remember that, so maybe you’ll use “That gave me pause” instead, in that particular case.
For me specifically, I like having multiple ways to say the same thing so I can actively switch between them, just to be sure my writing never gets too repetitive. Even though, as you said, it all communicates nearly the exact same thing.
Honestly a big factor for me is repetition. How many times have I used a certain phrase or dialogue tag? Especially in a fantasy book, which can get quite large, and you can forget what sentences you’ve used most frequently.
Depends on what character I’m writing, and since my books are rhythmic, something has to happen at any given moment that has some rhyming and power to it, so that gives me ample places to explain all the situations.
I would choose “that gave me pause”. Just seems more show-y while “that surprised me” is more tell-y. I tend to describe my settings and my character actions then and there and post the draft with little revision, but that’s just me!
Whenever I rewrite, I read out loud to see if the sentence feels right to say. Sometimes I’ve caught sentences that felt clunky or long winded and then I’ll rewrite them until the sentence feels…better in a sense.