40 Ways to Strengthen Your Writing and Avoid a “Very” Weak Word
Writer’s often hear a simple, yet vitally important, piece of advice:
Never use the word, ‘very.’ It is the weakest word in the English language; doesn’t mean anything. If you feel the urge of ‘very’ coming on, just write the word, ‘damn,’ in the place of ‘very.’ The editor will strike out the word, ‘damn,’ and you will have a good sentence.
“Very” often serves as a go-to word for many, but it simply leaves writing flat. Good writing draws the reader in and creates the writer’s world in the reader’s imagination. People imagine things with various differences, but when an author really paints a perfect picture, it helps readers to better “see” what the author “saw” when drafting the novel or poem. Compare the following three descriptions of the same scene:
1. Vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges blew very slowly across the sidewalk.
2. Vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges blew lazily across the sidewalk.
In this example, the idea is the same, but the presentation stands stronger because the word is stronger. As an intensifier, very is a modifier that provides no real meaning except to enhance or add force to the words that it modifies. Simply put, it’s lazy filler. Admit it: it’s easier to say something is very tall instead of thinking of a more descriptive word (such as towering) or thinking creatively (maybe using a metaphor or simile?). Shortcuts don’t always breed success, however, and a good writer understands that readers desire substance, thought, and ingenuity.
The next time you find yourself writing that damn word very, sit back and reconsider. The English language overflows with synonyms for the simple word you chose. That’s what makes writing so wonderful: the only limit is your imagination. Be creative! If you find yourself stuck, try one of the 50
very good excellent replacements below.