Being a writer, words are my game. I gotta know ‘em. Not only do I have to know every permutation of, say, the word night, I have to be able to bust out just the right one at just the right time. So needless to say, I’m a nerd as quick with a dictionary as an Old West sharpshooter with a six iron.
That being said, there are some words I’ve grown to loathe. I hate them. Hate them so much I’d gladly shoot their family, burn down their house, and steal their dog just to watch them cry. Which is maybe taking things too far, but still, I dislike them with great intensity.
Of course I’ll do my best to explain why these raise my hackles. Some it’s just the way the word sounds or the way it feels in my mouth when I say it. Others I couldn’t even begin to explain. This won’t be a comprehensive list by any means, but I plan to hit the high marks.
Also, a lot of these are pop culture derived, which means I probably need to lay off the celebrity blogs and start filling my mind’s pie-hole with a higher level of entertainment.
Baby-bump – This word is just too cutesy-poo for my taste. Not to mention you hear it ad nauseum. So-and-so is showing a baby-bump. No, so-and-so is pregnant. I keep having flashbacks to my grandparents, who when talking about a pregnant woman would get a Very Serious Look on their faces, hide their mouth with one hand and whisper “She’s, you know, That Way.” Always followed by the conspiratorial solemn nod. For years I always wondered what that meant. I kept thinking they were radioactive, or aliens, or kidney stealers. When I finally asked my mom what they meant and she told me it was just a euphemism for pregnant, I was so annoyed. That’s it? She’s pregnant? That’s the big secret? Like the belly wasn’t a dead giveaway? It goes back to the writer needing to be specific about what’s being said. I hate ambiguity. Either say what you mean or shut up.
Booty – I just flat-out hate this word. Call it a butt, a rear, an ass, I don’t care. I just hate this word.
Dialogue – specifically when used as “you and I need to have a dialogue” or “let’s dialogue about this.” Sure, okay, we can have a dialogue about this, just as soon as I facilitate your sudden exodus to the nearest medical providing facility for being a glib jackass.
The word is TALK, people. Always has been, always will be.
Ironic – This word comes with a caveat. I don’t hate the word. I hate the way no one seems to be able to use the word correctly. As an example, on a news program I can’t recall at the moment, the anchor reported that the inventor of the Club (car-jacking prevention device for those not raised on 80’s infomercials) ‘ironically died in a car accident today.’ No. That is not ironic. Ironic would be if he died during a carjacking, or if someone killed him with the Club during a carjacking. A crude example probably made in poor taste, but it’s the most glaring example I can come up with. I’d blame Alanis Morissette for this, but honestly, I think it goes back much further than that.
Adding –licious to the end of any damn word – This needs to stop. Right now. It hasn’t been relevant since 2003, and hasn’t been funny since 2001. Quit it. I mean it. Don’t make me get the crossbow.
Adding –Man to the names of items typically possessed by those of the feminine gender (i.e. Manty-hose, Man-scara) – Seriously, guys, if you want to wear this stuff, wear it, but stop trying to pretend it’s something it’s not. Own up to wearing women’s clothing items. We don’t say “Oh, I’m going to wear some Female-Trouser Socks today, or a Fe-Fedora.” We just wear the clothes and know we look good in them. Rock on with your bad selves, and if you’re a dude who likes to wear eyeliner, don’t let some asshole shame you because those are “Women’s things.” There is no shame in being a woman, and there is no shame in the things we like either. It’s 2013. Let’s get past all those bullshit gender stereotypes already.
Like – This is more of a conversational peeve. I like pie. I like cookies. I like shitty monster movies. All these uses are okay, even if shitty monster movies are usually, well, shitty. What bugs me is when, like, people use the word like, like a comma. See how annoying that is? I had a roommate in college who used this word constantly. She stayed on the phone from the time she awoke until four or five in the morning, and I never heard her finish a complete sentence. Example:
“Like, I know. He said, like, and I was all, uh-huh, but then like – I know! Like it’s just so, like damn!”
I lasted six weeks and told my RA to either move me or I was going to burn the dorm down.
Quirky – Writers use quirky as an excuse when they have a character too outlandish to be real but they just don’t want to axe them. You know the kind. The off-the-wall roommate, the mother-in-law with the just too strange collection of whatever. The list goes on and on. Your secondary characters need to be just as fresh and alive as your main characters, and giving them some off the wall characteristic is too often an easy shorthand way to make them memorable without investing any time in them. This may work in small doses, but after a while, it’s just trite. Quirky characters are often scene-stealers and a hoot to write, but then the first thought the reader has is “Oh look, he’s so quirky!” You have then officially taken them out of the story. Another thing: if the word quirky is used to describe your main character, I’m putting your book back on the shelf unread.
Snarky – I lived through the Buffy the Vampire Slayer heydays, and lord knows I can appreciate the zippy, sarcastic banter that was a staple of the show’s appeal. Hell, I trained at the feet of the master. Still, I am so bone-weary of so-called ‘snarky’ characters. Even the word makes me tired. Oh look, its Indistinguishable Heroine #87453 with her handy dandy Quips of Doom. There is nothing wrong with this character when done right. Everyone has a little bit of a smart-ass in them, but it seems like everyone in the urban fantasy genre has to be a stand-up comedian on the side. You know, some people can kick quite a lot of ass with very little lip involved. Anyone remember John Wayne? Dirty Harry? Chuck Norris? Charles Bronson, for God’s sake! Did he even talk in his movies? Quiet characters can be some of the most interesting and profound. After all, you know what they say about the quiet ones . . .
Last minute Addendum – Speaking LolSpeak in real life. This is only funny when my dad does this. You just have to hear it.