No truer words were ever spoken. Deb Coonts said to me that the first book is good, the second is better, and the third best of all for the same reason. Practice, practice, practice. Practice doesn't make perfect; it makes better and you're always improving.
I've learned a great deal in the last six months about writing because I've attended a workshop put on by the Las Vegas Writer's Group and a one-day conference put on by the Las Vegas Romance Writers. If you want to be a writer, I recommend going to a few conferences (as many as you can afford because they're not cheap). Both the workshop and the one-day conference were excellent because they taught me things I'd never known about writing.
For example: Do you know what GMC is? No, it's not a dying car manufacturer or a gas-guzzling SUV. It's an acronym for Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. This is something each of your characters has and you must know as the writer to make the story excellent. I knew this instinctively, but I didn't know the proper terms for these qualities. Knowing them has improved my writing by leaps and bounds.
Another example: Get rid of the word "that". Everywhere. Just use the "Find" feature in your writing program and hit "remove", either one by one or en masse. Trust me, your writing will improve significantly.
And editors prefer conjunctions. We don't say "do not", "could not", "will not", "had not", "have not", "I am". We say (and think) "don't", "couldn't", "won't", "hadn't", "haven't" and "I'm". Use this even in description.
The last thing everyone likes (not just editors) is something other than "he said", "she said", "they said". Said? What does that mean? There's no emotion in "said". For example: "Holy shit! Where the hell did that come from?!" she said.
Uh, said? Wouldn't it be better to use the word "shouted", or "screamed" or "shrieked" or "hollered"? Heck, even "exclaimed" gets the emotion across better. But it's not always easy to think of the right word. Thesauruses are great for that, but they don't always have them all together.
Years ago, I didn't like "he said", "she said" either, so I made my own list. It has grown and I've edited it over time (back then we didn't have a need for "Tweeted" or "texted"), but it's really useful when trying to convey more emotion than just the statements suggest. They are listed below for your use when writing.
So there you have it. Each word conveys a great deal more emotion than "said", although that word is also in the list (just in case you needed it). If you can think of any others, please let me know and I'll add it to the list for future reference. Good luck and happy writing! :)