Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize-winning American writer, is famous for his writing efficiency. “To be successful in writing, use short sentences,” he said. The Hemingway Editor
app is based on this premise.
Write Sweet and Short Prose like Hemingway
If you’ve been advised to write like Hemingway, it’s one way of telling you that your sentences are too clunky and could use some trimming.
Keeping the desirable quality of the brevity of Hemingway’s writing in mind, Adam and Ben Long developed a writing app that grades the readability of your writing from 1-15. The lower the rank, the clearer your writing.
How to Use the Hemingway Editor
The Hemingway Editor is very easy to use. You can paste or type text into it. The app uses color-coding to convey how complicated the sentence is. For instance, if there is a red highlight, the sentence is dense and it would be a good idea to work on it. A purple highlight indicates that a longer word can be replaced by a shorter one. A formatting toolbar is also provided.
In this example, the highlights focus on adverbs and the use of passive voice. Readability is also graded. You can use this app to assess your own content. A few tweaks based on the suggestions provided can clean up your copy.
Hemingway Editor: Recommended or Not?
Highly recommended tool.
You may have written a book. That is hard enough, but what do you think about rewriting? The very idea of rewriting a manuscript that you may have spent months or even years on daunting. But the truth of the matter is that writing is sometimes synonymous with rewriting.
Let’s look at what some great writers have had to say about rewriting:
Hemingway: The only kind of writing is rewriting.
Toni Morrison: I rewrite a lot, over and over again, so that it looks like I never did. I try to make it look like I never touched it, and that it takes a lot of time and lot of sweat.
Vladimir Nabokov: I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.
There are many ways you can make that manuscript shine. You could write the first draft and then rewrite it. Or you could work on detailed character and plot outlines. Another way of rewriting is to write bits and pieces of the story and then go back to those sections and rewrite it until the pieces gel.
What you could do is maybe hand in a chapter or two of your manuscript to a trusted beta reader or preferably an expert- a writing teacher or a knowledgeable reader- and get their feedback. This helps you when you are trying to find a direction for your first or second draft. Many times, we think our story is complete but it takes a fresh pair of eyes to catch a character mismatch or inconsistency in plotting. This helps for a smoother and more meaningful rewrite.
When you rewrite, make sure that you keep the overall plot idea consistent. If you go way off tangent, then you may end up writing a different book altogether. Keep targets. No amount of polishing is going to be enough but there has to be a time to stop.
What’s your experience rewriting? Tell us.
Links about Rewriting:
How to Rewrite
Six Rules for Rewriting