The writing biz: In defense of the word ‘very’

So many writing teachers and books on writing will make the word ‘very‘ seem so very taboo, just like the poor, picked on exclamation point! I didn’t use the word in my writing for years as it seemed like practicing devil worship in a Christian home.

Very Very Very

But it’s a great word. Sure it can be overused and shamelessly exploited. Any word can be overused though. I love the word pillow. Who doesn’t? But if I used it in every sentence wouldn’t you be like ‘ah c’mon, get over the pillow talk already (ha, ha, pun intended!)

This may have all started with the infamous book by Strunk and White, The Elements of Style. Here is an except from the book:

“Rather, very, little, pretty— these are the leeches (yes, they said leeches) that infest of the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words. The constant use of the adjective little (except to indicate size) is particularly debilitating; we should all try to do a little better, we should all be very watchful of this rule, for it is a rather important one and we are pretty sure to violate it now and then.”

Lady Gaga Very

Now I’m not out to trash this book at all. I think it’s an awesome book actually, but it’s not the bible of writing. It’s just two people’s opinion about writing. That’s what all writing rules are, opinions that have been generally accepted as the norm.

Also, notice something very peculular about the quote above… all the words they tell people to avoid are used in the last sentence. Sometimes I think Strunk and White got drunk and wrote this book just to f**k with everyone. Either that or even they were trying to tell people not to treat their rules as if they were part of God’s revelation to Abraham.



I don’t proclaim to be the greatest writer ever, but learning the rules and then learning how to knowingly break them is, I believe, when you really start to find your voice–the one that doesn’t come out of a textbook, and I think that is so very cool.

Keri is so Very
Remember this commercial?
How could Elvis be wrong? Wait, didn’t he try to deport The Beatles?



  1. This is great. I really like the way you see things. 🙂

    Like you said – Find your voice. Once you find it, don’t about the rules. When we talk to people do we pause and try to remember the proper noun and verb usage of our sentences? No.

    Relax. Do your work and write all the Very’s you want.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “these are the leeches that infest of the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words”

    My English teacher at school would have dismissed that as ‘purple prose’. I remember a boy in my class being told off for writing in an essay ‘the clouds disgorged their aqueous loads’😁
    And I rather like the use of ‘rather’, another of their mots noirs, to qualify what one is saying.
    So there!

    Liked by 3 people

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