Friday, March 26, 2010

Found Only in Fiction: Phrases Girls Hate

I recently asked a few of the teen and preteen girls that hang around my house about what words and phrases bug them when they’re reading books. I was surprised at how opinionated they were on the subject. But then, these girls are all avid readers (and bear in mind it was a small sample of less than 5). Here are some phrases they found irritating:

Phrases like “She blinked and then….”

The word “breathe” in the middle of a character’s inner thoughts.

Writing the sound of people laughing, e.g. “Ha! Ha! Ha!” said Thomas, instead of “Thomas laughed.”

The word “pierced” when used as a sound, because it makes them think of physical stabbing and not a sound.

“Cringe” and “scowl”.

“Flowery”. One girl said, “What does it mean, anyway? It reminds me of showery.”


  1. Interesting!

    Re flowery: I feel the same way about the word 'artfully'. It's one of those WTH modifiers.

  2. Oh this is interesting. Wish I had teens around the house to help me out. Right now my boys are busy making up alternate worlds where chocolate is eaten all day long. :-)

  3. They do surprise me sometimes. A world made of chocolate? Very funny. Reminds me of the story Chocolatina by Erik Kraft.

  4. What a good idea to ask readers about which phrases bug them in books. I'm a substitute teacher - instead of observing them, I should ask them the same thing.

    I guess it would be good to use "pierced" if you want the readers to get a stabbing visual from sound.


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