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Write one true sentence - Hemingway's advice
by John Davidson Vancouver, Canada
My favorite Hemingway book is "A Movable Feast." because he writes
about starting out as an unknown writer in Paris struggling to find his
"All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know." - Ernest Hemingway, A Movable Feast."
true sentence is short declarative and crisp like a bite of Michigan
apple. He uses one or two syllable words with a rare three syllable
thrown in. Here's a line where he describes a lady sitting in the
cafe.Pick out someone in the cafe and try to describe what's unique
about them in as few words as possible.
Even though his wife
and him were dirt poor with a new infant to feed, he got out of the
house and wrote in cafes or a hotel room he rented for his writing
studio. Away from the distractions of his wife's talking and constant
demands of looking after a new-born he was free to create.
Poverty can be a blessing. Starvation heightened his senses. He would visit art museums and study the details of the food displayed in the pictures. He hunted and killed pigeons to eat. His hobby was walking and observing. To avoid driving himself crazy with hunger, he devised walking routes that avoided favorite cafes and restaurants.
Here's a passage instructing the writer to always finish his writing for the day knowing what he is going to start with the next day,
"It was wonderful to walk down the long flights of
stairs knowing that I'd had good luck working.
I always worked until I had
something done and I always stopped when I
knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going
on the next day. " - Ernest Hemingway, A Movable Feast
And advice for getting started on those days when the muse has abandoned us.
"But sometimes when I was started on a new story and I could not get going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, "Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know." So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut the scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written. - Ernest Hemingway, A Movable Feast
Which coffee would Hemingway sip as he devoured his morning croissant? The holy trinity of a good cup of joe is the beans, the grind and the coffee-maker. Check my other hubs on coffee. Discover the $30 coffee-maker that beats out the $10,000 clover coffee machine.