“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”― Mark Twain
One of my favorite journalism professors drummed this rule into my head. Anyone who has worked with me as an editor knows that I instantly delete these things, among others:
– Exclamation marks (unless someone is actually screaming)
– & (not a word, folks)
– Double spaces between sentences (I don’t care what your 5th grade Language Arts teacher taught you; it’s one space)
In regard to avoiding “very”: You should choose a word that is strong enough to convey the full impact of your meaning. If your subject is “very tired,” swap exhausted for tired and drop the very.