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3 Proven Tips On Writing As Ernest Hemingway Did (That Really Work)

Updated on March 2, 2019

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed

The above-mentioned quote by one of the most famous authors of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway, clearly states that writing is not easy. And without any doubt, it's absolutely true. Well, I will not go into the detail of writing process here. Rather, I will focus on the writing style. I will be discussing the terse prose of Ernest Hemingway who pioneered the minimalism in English writing. Also, I will be explaining some tips on how to write the manner he did.

Hemingway's writing is famous for the simple sentences and the use of everyday vocabulary. Though, you may find some foreign words here and there, but overall his writing is simple and direct. And you will not have to consult a dictionary. Hemingway refrained from adjectives and relied on nouns and verbs mostly. This made his writing more direct, terse, and powerful.

Before we go into the detail of the main features of his writing, I want to mention here a famous anecdote from his life, which will give you an idea of his impeccable command over the craft.

Once during the lunch with other writers, Hemingway won a bet for writing a short story in just six words. He came up with this:

For sale: babies shoes, never worn

You can understand by this example that how much precise and powerful he was in his writing. He had been famous for unadorned and straightforward prose throughout his writing career. He attracted both admirers and critics for his terse prose. Now, he is considered to be one of the most followed American authors of the 20th century.

Image Courtesy: chrishiltonwriter.wordpress.com
Image Courtesy: chrishiltonwriter.wordpress.com

The Old man and the Sea

This novella fetched him the Nobel Prize in literature in 1954. The Old man and the Sea is a slender classic that is inspiring and gripping in its drama. This is a story about triumph and defeat. Let me mention a quote from this intellectual thriller:

'A man can be destroyed but not defeated.'

The Old man and the Sea is a true signature of his craft. His other novels include A Farewell to Arms, The Torrent of Spring, To Have and Have not, For Whom the Bells Tolls, The Garden of Eden, True at First Light, Across the River and Into the Trees. He also penned many short stories: Men without Women, Winner Take Nothing, The Snow of Kilimanjaro

Image Courtesy: www.allposters.com
Image Courtesy: www.allposters.com
Image Courtesy: thewritepractice.com
Image Courtesy: thewritepractice.com

How you can write as Hemingway did

First advice on how to write like as Hemingway did is to read his works as much as you can. This will help you understand how to organize sentences and paragraphs.

Sentence length:

Hemingway wrote short and simplified sentences. He once said that his objective was to write what he felt in simplest and truest manner. If you want to write as he did, you should use short, simple, and declarative sentences. Break long and complex sentences into simpler and short sentences. This will help you achieve brevity.

Sentence speed:

The most visible stylistic of Hemingway's writing is fast sentence speed. Sentence speed means how fast readers read sentences aloud or silently. His short and declarative sentences and minimal or no use of punctuation make his writings fast to read. Hemingway waged a war against comma. He found an alternative of comma. He used 'and' to replace comma. This helped him achieve fast sentence speed. So, limit the use of punctuation, you will be writing fast lane.

If you notice pages of a Hemingway's novel, you will notice there is lots of white space on the pages. This he did to make his writing reader friendly. The pages are filled with dialogues, leaving plenty of white space. If you want to write as he did, you should leave sufficient white space on pages to make them more aesthetically pleasing.

Reread to cut out unnecessary words:

The simple and terse prose of Hemingway you see is a result of vigorous writing process. He himself said once the first draft is a shit. He edited his work heavily to attain brevity. So, reread your work to attain clarity.

These are some basic and most visible traits of his writing. As one cannot emulate other writer, many writers tried to imitate him, but none has been successful so far. You cannot learn to write as he did. But you can certainly have features of his writing in your craft, which are simplicity, brevity, and clarity.

I will put an end to this post with a famous quote of his on writing:

'We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.'

So keep on improving.


Image courtesy: www.wallpaperbeautiful.com/
Image courtesy: www.wallpaperbeautiful.com/
Image courtesy: http://inktank.fi/
Image courtesy: http://inktank.fi/

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