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.”