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#OnWriting Thought of the Day > The weakest word in English

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Massimo Marino | 125 comments Mod
#OnWriting Never use the word, 'very.' It is the weakest word in the English language; doesn't mean anything.

'Very' seems to be tailored for telling...

"He was very surprised when...", "She became very upset at the news...", and so on.

Do you find 'very' very disturbing, too? do you have other 'beloved' words you try to avoid at all costs?


Massimo Marino | 125 comments Mod
Simone wrote: "I have recently begun noticing "very". I looked at my sentence and said... well that sounds juvenile. You have an English degree, woman. Can't you do better than that? After that I became aware. I'..."

:)


Kerry (bkmcavoy) | 7 comments Definitely true. I sound like a valley girl when I use the word. I have heard avoiding most adverbs when writing is a very good idea.

Thanks for the tip!


Kerry (bkmcavoy) | 7 comments I just re-read my comment and I used an adverb!!!! Urgh!!! Those pesky words. They creep in everywhere.


Massimo Marino | 125 comments Mod
Kerry wrote: "I just re-read my comment and I used an adverb!!!! Urgh!!! Those pesky words. They creep in everywhere."

:) Indeed, Kerry. There's a nice thread about adverbs here. In general it is better to think twice before thinking to use one -ly word, and then it is better to decide not to use them :)

An adverb is a short cut to avoid painting a scene, and it is perceived as telling rather than showing. "She looked at him sternly." :)


Massimo Marino | 125 comments Mod
Simone wrote: "Adverbs are like any other part of speech. A tool. Use them if it is appropriate and don't go overboard."

You've provided the answer yourself... part of the speech, i.e., dialogue.

For narration it is another thing ;)


message 7: by Massimo (last edited Jul 04, 2013 06:18AM) (new)

Massimo Marino | 125 comments Mod
What about "rather" everyone? :) and "almost", or "about" in some contexts where it works as "almost"...


Kerry (bkmcavoy) | 7 comments Ahh, good point. I heard Jerry Jenkins speak (not that I am a fan of his work, but he has been successful) say one's writing should be clear and concise. Avoid words that convey vagueness, including rather, almost, and about (in some instances). Good advice, but not easy to follow.

Neil Gaiman's appendix in American Gods also shared this advice. He wrote that after writing American Gods he went back through the manuscript and cut most adverbs out unless he could justify their use. Few survived his pruning.


Massimo Marino | 125 comments Mod
Kerry wrote: "Ahh, good point. I heard Jerry Jenkins speak (not that I am a fan of his work, but he has been successful) say one's writing should be clear and concise. Avoid words that convey vagueness, includin..."

I agree. Not just the -ly are bad for your writing health, also most <-- see? :) of the other adverbs.

Vagueness is like the fog. You can't share a vision in the fog.


L'Poni (Lponi) | 5 comments Interesting.....most interesting.


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