writers tips

Writer’s Tips #7: ‘Very’ is Very Useless

writers resourcesWhen you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. I’ll point them out. They’ll come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments. Please add comments with your favorite editing fixes.

Almost always, eliminating the word very strengthens your story. It is the weakest adjective in the language. Look at these:

  • very sad is the same as despondent
  • very happy is the same as elated

Do a search for very in your ms. (use edit-find). Then do one of two things:

  • Spend the time to eliminate it
  • Replace it and the verb it’s attached to with a stronger verb.

Trust me. It actually makes agents angry to read that word. You don’t want to make the agent who might sign your novel angry.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade, creator of two technology training books for middle school and three ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco blogger, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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2 thoughts on “Writer’s Tips #7: ‘Very’ is Very Useless

  1. Yes, it’s so easy to slip these into our writing – especially as it’s basically how we speak! I tend to have to just remove the “very” or “extremely”. and either leave it without, or maybe with a “significantly” – medical writing typically should be very bland. Although it’s amazing how many scientific papers I read with superlatives in them! Doesn’t really bother me – I’m not a purist when it comes to other peoples’ work, but I work to get it right when working for others!


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