A “very” different way to edit your manuscript

Strunk and WhiteIt’s been a couple of months since I’ve spent any time with the goblin project. In an effort to help get myself back into the story I decided to turn to those two literary Yodas so many great writers have referenced before: Strunk & White. I pulled out my copy of The Elements of Style and turned to page 63 where it reads:

Very: Use this word sparingly. Where emphasis is necessary, use words strong in themselves.

Then I pulled up my manuscript and searched for “very.” It brought up about 75 results. (Keep in mind my manuscript is approximately 31,000 words at this point.) More than half of those results were the word “every” used in various contexts.

I went through all of the other results one by one and decided whether or not I should leave the sentence as written or change it. I changed nearly every sentence and almost 100% of the time I deleted the word “very.” The only sentences I left “very” in were sentences of dialogue. It sounds right to have my characters saying things like, “I’m not very good at this.”

I recommend trying this on your own manuscript. It was fun. It didn’t take me too long, and I think I strengthened many of the sentences throughout my story. It was also an easy way for me to familiarize myself with the story again.

Thank you Strunk and White.

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4 thoughts on “A “very” different way to edit your manuscript

    1. Andrew Rogers Post author

      It was fun, dude. I enjoyed doing this a lot and am thinking about trying the same thing with older stories. Such small corrections reminding me of sanding a piece of wood, or detailing a car. It’s the little things that make the difference.

      Reply

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