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Apex Magazine editor Jason Sizemore posted a list of overused words writers should cut from their manuscripts. Over the next couple weeks I will take each word and elaborate upon why the word can and should be cut along with my own overuse of the word.

From the first list of overused words:

Very – I gave up on this word a long time ago. It is a completely useless word. What does it add to a sentence? Nothing. It doesn’t matter where or how it’s used, there is no need for it.

As an adjective it is used to emphasize something particular. Example: This was the very hotel my parents stayed at on their honeymoon. Remove the word very from the sentence and it will still talk about the hotel. A better word to use would be same or exact. Those words more precisely emphasize the hotel than very could ever hope to accomplish.

The more common usage of very is as an adverb to describe something as being to a higher degree. Example: Mary was very brave. Here, if very is removed, the resulting sentence would read “Mary was brave.” which is too plain to describe Mary. The majority of novice writers will want to use another adverb such as extremely or incredibly. Using those words is a way to tell the reader Mary is brave, but it is not the duty of a writer to tell the reader Mary is brave, instead a writer must show how brave she is. “Mary was an immovable stone wall when she confronted the bully.”  The reader can see how brave Mary must be because she is described as an “immovable stone wall” and she stood up to a bully which takes a large amount of courage.

The word very is dead to you. No longer shall the word scar the landscape of your manuscripts.

The English language is a large and varied language, be wise in your choice of words.

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