5 Tips on Writing From Ernest Hemingway

Since we all seemed to enjoy the post on Stephen Kings writing tips- i thought this would be a nice addition. Google him if you dont know his body of work but suffice it to say- he is easily one of the greatest writers this side of Dostoyevsky. As proof of his work transcending class, culture, time and color, in his song “Many Men” 50cent even paraphrased a famous quote from the legend asking his father as a young boy if dying was easy…

Leave comments if you have some to add.

-@HaZiQ

1. Use short sentences.Hemingway was famous for a terse minimalist style of writing that dispensed with flowery adjectives and got straight to the point. In short, Hemingway wrote with simple genius.

Perhaps his finest demonstration of short sentence prowess was when he was challenged to tell an entire story in only 6 words:

For sale: baby shoes, never used.

2. Use short first paragraphs.See opening.

3. Use vigorous English.

Here’s David Garfinkel’s take on this one:

It’s muscular, forceful. Vigorous English comes from passion, focus and intention. It’s the difference between putting in a good effort and TRYING to move a boulder… and actually sweating, grunting, straining your muscles to the point of exhaustion… and MOVING the freaking thing! I think in the music world Rick Ross does this to almost its full potential. Lots of alliteration and tongue-twisters in Ross records.

4. Be positive, not negative.
Since Hemingway wasn’t the cheeriest guy in the world, what does he mean by be positive? Basically, you should say what something is rather than what it isn’t.

This is what Michel Fortin calls using up words:

By stating what something isn’t can be counterproductive since it is still directing the mind, albeit in the opposite way. If I told you that dental work is painless for example, you’ll still focus on the word “pain” in “painless.”

• Instead of saying “inexpensive,” say “economical,”
• Instead of saying “this procedure is painless,” say “there’s little discomfort” or “it’s relatively comfortable,”
• And instead of saying “this software is error-free” or “foolproof,” say “this software is consistent” or “stable.”

5. Never have only 4 rules.
Actually, Hemingway did only have 4 rules for writing, and they were those he was given as a cub reporter at the Kansas City Star in 1917. But, as any web writer knows, having only 4 rules will never do.

So, in order to have 5, I had to dig a little deeper to get the most important of Hemingway’s writing tips of all:

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

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2 Responses to “5 Tips on Writing From Ernest Hemingway”

  1. Fantastic website you have here but I was wondering if you knew
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