William Allen White: Advice to Writers

Here is editor William Allen White’s advice to writers on how to get rid of the word very in their writing. Note: This quote is sometimes attributed to Mark Twain (see attributed quote at the bottom of the page), but Twain experts have denied the quote and researchers point to the Emporia Gazette editor as the real source of the advice.

I never give advice, but there is one thing I wish you would do when you sit down to write news stories, and that is: Never use the word ‘very.’ It is the weakest word in the English language; it 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 White, editor of Emporia Gazette in Kansas

William Allen White's Advice to Writers: 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.

Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and your writing will be just as it should be. — Mark Twain

About John Kremer

John Kremer is author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, the Relationships Matter Marketing program, and many other books and reports on book marketing, Internet marketing, social media, and book publicity. -- .

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