Every writer has little tics that sneak into their writing. As a freelance writer in Lynchburg, Virginia, I often edit content for other writers. Recently, I was marking up a long document for someone who requested a video chat after I sent the first markup. I marked over 3,000 corrections. However, the writer soon realized that they reused three words over and over again. These were very, and, and but.
The but and and appears at the beginning of many sentences. His stream-of-consciousness writing style unnecessarily dropped those two words into the beginning of his sentences. Most of the time, removing these words created a crisp, fast-moving pace.
He also laughed at how many times he used the word very. We ruthlessly chopped every instance and consulted the thesaurus for stronger, replacement terms.
“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” – Mark Twain
If you want to improve your writing, search for very and replace it with a more precise word.
How to Remove Very from Sentences
Most of the time, you can remove very from sentences by choosing a stronger word. That’s the real reason why you added it. The current adjective or adverb didn’t feel strong enough.
- Exhausted replaces very tired
- Famished replaces very hungry
- Exquisite replaces very beautiful
Obviously, very can remain in areas of dialogue if it’s true to a character or a part of a quote. People use it in everyday conversation. It can indicate someone who is dramatic or gregarious.
In prose, removing very tightens up any phrase. It also forces you to select a precise adjective — improving your writing and clarifying your thoughts.
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