A Pet Peeve in Passing

Apropos of nothing except a book I read recently: If you have a child or teen character in your manuscript, please, please, do not describe the child as a "youngster," as in "The youngster grinned as wide as the Mississippi while he licked his ice-cream cone." Nothing says "I am watching/describing this kid from the outside rather than getting into his head, feelings, and concerns" -- or more simply, "I am out of touch with real children"-- than the word "youngster." ("Youth" is also dangerous, but not quite as egregious.) In fact, I would go so far as to say that if the word appears anywhere in your manuscript other than perhaps the dialogue of an elderly character who is not sympathetic to children (but then who really says "youngster" in conversation? Really?): Delete it. Eggh.

This has been a public service announcement from Editors Against Thesaurus Abuse.*

* We were going to add "for the Sake of Word Variation, Especially When It Conflicts with a Believable or Even Readable Voice" -- but it wouldn't fit on our business cards. If you have a better acronym, let us know.