“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.” -William Allen WhiteI understand that a lot of authors now-a-days tend to overuse the word “very”, which is something you don’t want to do. The repetition of any word becomes boring, and if you see “very” too much you will get sick of it. “Very” is the type of word that you have to use sparingly and carefully. Sometimes it is an unnecessary word in a sentence.
It is okay to let your characters use it in their dialogue though because it is a common word. We use the word “very” a lot in our speech. “I was very mad!” Not many people say they were infuriated. “That was when I realized something was very wrong.” “You just had to be there. It was very funny!” And you get the idea . . . But that doesn't mean you can't substitute "very" for a stronger word. For the last example you can use "hilarious" instead.
I still use the word “very” in my writing though, because I can. It is a word and, just as with all the other words in the English language, it is meant to be used, not ignored. And I don’t view “very” as the weakest word either. It is used to bring emphasis and if one little word can intensify what you are saying then it is not weak, it is powerful!
With that said, I don’t use the word “very” willy-nilly. It’s not in every paragraph and certainly not on every page, but it is still there where I want it to be. There are certain moments when I like to use the word “very” because it actually sounds better with it. For example: when my characters make love “slowly, very slowly”. I think that phrase will just make women’s mouths water, and that is all thanks to the word “very”.
Sometimes “very” is the perfect word to use. However, tossing “very” in front of every verb or adjective is overkill.
TIP: For 45 ways on how to avoid using "very" check out this post from Writers Write.
QUESTION: What is your view of the word “very”? When/how often do you use it in your writing?