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Bob Nailor

The Very Rut

You've heard me harp about not using the word "said" as a dialog tag but use action to show who is talking. Today I want to address a new tag that very many people use very often.

Yes, very!

The last sentence of my opening paragraph could be easily re-written as "Today I want to address a new tag that several people use too often."

I'm sure you've all seen the movie "Summer School" starring Mark Harmon. Do you remember the scene where Francis "Chainsaw" Gremp and Dave Frazier do their joint class report on "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and need 100 words? For those who don't know, the report was something like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is our favorite movie because it is very, very, very very, very good. Thank you. One hundred words, Mr. Shoop. Count'em."

Writers tend to use shortcuts when writing their first pass and then, ignore the possibility of a better word to punch their writing when editing, to wit:

It was a very big room. It was a spacious room
He was very afraid. He was terrified
The creature was very ugly. The creature was hideous.
The food was very good. The food was scrumptious.
She was very old. She was archaic.
The star was very bright. The star dazzled.
The clothes were very wet. The clothes were soaked.

But, wait! There is one "very" that raises my hackles to no end. What could it possibly be? It is what I call the epitome of very overuse.

It is very unique!

Using, the resultant description of "unique" is:

  • existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics:
    a unique copy of an ancient manuscript.
  • having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable:
    Bach was unique in his handling of counterpoint.
  • limited in occurrence to a given class, situation, or area:
    a species unique to Australia.
  • limited to a single outcome or result; without alternative possibilities:
    Certain types of problems have unique solutions.
  • not typical; unusual:
    She has a unique smile.

When writing, eliminate the word "very" from your vocabulary or, use it sparingly.

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Diane Rapp
Now I'm planning to search for "very" in my WIP and get serious about eliminating it. Thanks.
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