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How to avoid words that make your readers (& editors) cringe.

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As editors and beta readers, we see a lot of words and phrases that probably shouldn’t be allowed in any manuscript. In saying that, here are just a few of the best (or is that the worst?) that make their way around books, and often make editors and readers cringe. We even carried out an in-house poll on this one for you. Plus, there are a few FYI points.

Moist – this has been commented on by many people in different groups online, and not just ours. The general consensus is that it’s just bad. A bad, bad word that conjures bad images! If you can steer away from using it in romance, then please do.

Seeping slits – Really? This sounds like an infection of some sort has managed to get itself stuck in an area we’d rather keep infection free. Can we all agree not to use it, please? Cheers!

Moist deep coves – Ah, yeah. I think this really speaks for itself. Ick!

Lumps (breasts) – This description may be used in a song, but how about we leave it there? I haven’t met a woman who refers to her girls as ‘lumps’. Ever.

Tat/tatt – in reference to tattoos. People who are inked don’t say tat/tatt. It’s ink or art to those who get them regularly. Those with decorative skin are often part of a community and really, truly don’t call their art tats/tatts. Terms that are acceptable include: tattoo, ink, art, work, piece. Stick with them and you’ll be okay.

Lady penis – Oookay. This is a new one I hadn’t heard of. But ewwww! Under no circumstances are you to refer to a clitoris as a lady penis. It’s just gross. And so, so wrong!

Pinterest boards and Facebook memes – I think we can all be a little more creative with our words than what we’ve seen on Pinterest and Facebook. It may be a great meme, but the chances are your readers have read it too. Keep it classy, peeps!

Demons/ghosts – It seems that personal demons or ghosts aren’t too popular either. Or more accurately, the clichéd lines authors use to describe a haunted past. Mix it up, be creative. Avid readers aren’t going to want to see the same lines over and over.

Senses – Keep the senses where they belong, please. Tongue = taste. Nose = smell. Skin = touch/feel. Eyes = sight. Ears = hearing. Don’t muddle them up.

Out – It isn’t a dialogue tag. Huff out, growl out, sigh out, snarl out, yell out (although the latter is almost acceptable), boom out, chuckle out, and any other ‘out’ you can think of, don’t use it. Realistically, the words above aren’t dialogue tags anyway and aren’t supposed to be used after a comma when your characters are speaking. But for the love of your editor, don’t add ‘out’!

Happy writing and continue being your amazing and creative selves.


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