what would hemingway do?

If you have ever read Hemingway, you know he’s the master of the short and simple sentence, with much conveyed by not much at all.

Reading his work you are there in the moment, in the sentence. Nothing else intrudes. Other writers could do this too, like Bukowski, but Hemingway is the master.

Why is he important? His style of writing, direct to you in simple but powerful language, is tremendously effective.

Well some help is at hand. The Hemingway app allows you to upload your work to a web page, where the app will analyse your writing and tell you where it is at its most un-Hemingway.

The app flags hard or very hard to read sentences; use of the passive voice; adverbs which is suggests replacing with active verbs; words that can be omitted; and terrible long words (like utilise) that can be replaced by nice short words (like use).

The web version is free, but there is a paid-for downloadable version too.

If you find it difficult to write in his characteristically economical style, then perhaps you should try this list of books Hemingway recommended to an aspiring writer, Arnold Samuelson, in 1934. “The most important thing I’ve learned about writing is never write too much at a time,” Hemingway told him. “Never pump yourself dry. Leave a little for the next day. The main thing is to know when to stop.”

  • “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane (short story)
  • “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane (short story)
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Dubliners by James Joyce
  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal
  • Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
  • Hail and Farewell by George Moore
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Oxford Book of English Verse
  • The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson
  • The American by Henry James

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