As I slowly move through my recent WIP (work in progress), my editor, Denise Vitola, is pointing out things that I never really thought about before. For instance, the word “very.” I like this word. If I’m happy, I’m usually very happy. If I’m tired, I’m usually very tired. Maybe I’m a girl of extremes, but I use this word to make my adjectives stronger and to show that “I’m really serious about this feeling.”
Alas, I’ve been instructed to “banish the word ‘very’ from my manuscript.” This word, along with other descriptive words like “extremely, ridiculously and amazingly.” Why? Because these words don’t give the reader any sort of real visual. There is always a stronger word to use. My thought to my editor was, “but why must we explain everything? Can’t we let our readers figure anything out for themselves or create whatever description they’d like themselves?” Her answer? “No.”
Her explanation and suggestions are this: If I say “the girl is very beautiful.” Denise says “the girl is either beautiful or she’s not. You can use a much better word.” Hence, if she’s THAT beautiful, well, “the girl is stunning.”
Along these same lines: “He is ridiculously funny.” Nope, he’s either funny or he’s not, or he’s HILARIOUS. “She is very cold.” If she is very cold, isn’t she “freezing? “She is very smart.” Actually, that means “she’s brilliant.” You get the idea.
Denise believes that as writers we must find ways to describe the situation visually to our readers. We must choose words that are stronger and have more description to them.
I agree and I’m very happy about her comments… Actually “I’m ecstatic!”
For anyone interested in working with a great editor – Denise is doing a special until Labor Day. Normally she charges $4 a page, but she’s only charging $2 a page, doublespaced, for your manuscript. If you wish to take your writing up to the next level and have a real writing coach work with you, with the work personalized specifically to your novel, I highly recommend her. Here’s her website: http://www.thomas-talks-to-me.com/editing/index.html