Write Like Hemingway: The App
Ernest Hemingway's writing style is direct and unadorned. He avoids adjectives and adverbs. His style has been described as bold and muscular. It's clean and clear.
In Observations on the Style of Ernest Hemingway, from "Contexts of Criticism" by Harry Levin, the critic says, "Hemingway puts his emphasis on nouns because, among other parts of speech, they come closest to things. Stringing them along by means of conjunctions, he approximates the actual flow of experience."
Hemingway says of his own writing style:
"I take great pains with my work, pruning and revising with a tireless hand. I have the welfare of my creations very much at heart. I cut them with infinite care, and burnish them until they become brilliants. What many another writer would be content to leave in massive proportions, I polish into a tiny gem."
A lot of writers wish they would write more like Hemingway. And now there is an app for that.
The Hemingway app functions like an editor. It highlights overly complex sentences and words. It even suggests better words to replace them with.
The app highlights "long, complex sentences and common errors." According to the website for the app, "If you see a yellow sentence, shorten or split it. If you see a red highlight, your sentence is so dense and complicated that your readers will get lost trying to follow its meandering, splitting logic - try editing this sentence to remove the red."
As well, it highlights passive voice, adverbs and adjectives.
According to blogger Jacco Blankenspoor, the app "started out life as an online-only text editor that offered a unique way to improve people's writing, based on the style of author Ernest Hemingway, renowned for his brief sentences and simple language. Recently, the team behind the app launched a desktop version (for Windows and Mac) that allows for opening and saving files. This isn't possible with the online version, so now you don't need a second app just for that task. It also comes with a live preview pane that appears alongside your editing screen."
Does it lead to better writing? Or does it force people to write more like each other? Corey Pein writes, "As for the simmering question of whether an app like this one encourages formulaic writing, I'll just say that the greater scourge is bad writing. Formulaic writing is a luxury problem. Bad writing is pandemic and rooted in illiteracy.
Let's take the Hemingway app for a spin, shall we?
This is what it thinks of the first paragraph of Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities.
It says that this sentence is very hard to read. And it is written at a post-collegiate reading level. Two big no-nos.
Let's see what it thinks about the first paragraph of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
If you'd like to see what the Hemingway app responds to Hemingway's writing, The New Yorker tested that in this article.