Ernest Hemingway is famous for his writing style. Starting out as a cub reporter, he developed a reputation for brevity. An example that is often associated with him was a challenge to write a story in six words. Hemingway is often attributed with the following:
For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.
Writing teachers often cite this to encourage concise expression. It usually gets the message across, regardless of the author of the work.
There are a series of writing rules used by Hemingway as summarised below:
- Use short sentences
- Use short first paragraphs
- Use vigorous English
- Be positive
The Hemingway App incorporates these writing rules. A colour-coded system identifies adverbs, passive voice and simpler alternative words. It also highlights sentences that are hard or very hard to read. A readability grade is assigned, and the less identified errors the better the grade. A free online version has limited options for saving or exporting work. The paid version has more functionality.
As outlined in an online review, it can definitely help with improving your writing style.
I’ve been using the app now for about six months, and I usually run drafts of posts or stories through it to see how they fare. At first the temptation was strong to accept all the recommended changes. I altered the work to meet the app requirements. I found that this didn’t work in all instances, as there are limitations. The context of a sentence is not taken into account. There are times when longer sentences are required for the work to flow – brief isn’t always best. There are various elements of a personal writing style which the app cannot identify.
Overall I have found the app beneficial. There are times when, as a writer, you know what you want to say and it makes sense to you. The app helps to identify where there might be room for improvement. It is a handy tool to have available for editing your work.
What writing tools do you use?
[Photo: old typewriter spotted at Kandos Museum]