Evil words. I’m sure everyone can name a few.
I don’t mean swear words or words describing vile practices. I mean words you hate. Words you can’t spell, words you can’t pronounce, words you’re always getting mixed up, ugly words or simply words that symbolise trends or patterns in language you despise.
Most of all, I dislike words that are vague. For that reason, the words ‘they’ and ‘it’ are probably on the top of my list. Why say ‘they’ if you mean your main character and someone else? Why say ‘They went downstairs’ while you can say ‘Peter followed Don’s broad back down the stairs’? The first gives me no images. If the word ‘it’ is overused, the meaning is easily lost over the space of a few sentences. Make sure all your it-s are neatly tied up.
Other vague words annoy me. Why say ‘The room was full of pine furniture’? Furniture doesn’t show me anything. It could be a bed, a table and chairs, or bookcases, who knows? I can’t picture ‘furniture’, but I can picture a table and chairs. Why say ‘features’ when you mean ‘face’? Features can refer to the entire body. It can refer to attributes of non-animate objects. Why be vague? A person has a face, not ‘features’.
What are your pushbotton words?