"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."¬†If such an esteemed - and influential - writer as Ernest Hemingway says there is no mastering the craft of writing, what chance does that give the rest of us? Hold that thought. There may be hope on the horizon.
Whether you are an actual Hemingway wanna be, or just want to improve that next message or memo to the staff, the developers of the new¬†Hemingway App¬†promise to make your prose as ¬†punchy and pithy as Hemingway's.
The two 20-something brothers who created it, Adam and Ben Long, say their creation's aim is to¬†make your writing better through the use of short, declarative sentences.
The app uses a formula, or algorithm, to determine how readable a particular sentence or paragraph is. The longer and more complex your writing is, the lower your score.
The app uses a formula, or algorithm, to determine how readable a particular sentence or paragraph is.
Here's how it works on your desktop. Just take a sentence, or a paragraph, you have written, and paste it into the Hemingway app website just to the right of the name Hemingway.
The app then immediately highlights long, complex sentences and common errors (see screen shot below); if you see a yellow highlight, shorten the sentence or split it. If you see a red highlight, the app says your sentence is too dense and complicated.
The app also suggests action-packed adverbs, and calls out spots where you might be able to substitute shorter words in place of the ones you have. You can even mouse over the suspect word for hints.
The app also suggests action-packed adverbs, and calls out spots where you might be able to substitute shorter words.
As a writer and editor, one of the things I am constantly catching, and trying to guard against in my own writing, is the passive voice.
In a sentence written in the¬†active voice, the subject of sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the¬†passive voice¬†the subject receives the action.
In the Hemingway app, phrases written in the passive voice are highlighted in green, so that's a great feature.
I plugged in my opening paragraph for this post, and was pleased to find the app didn't find any passivity, no bad adverbs and no words that could be made simpler.
However, the app did find the last sentence in my opening graph hard to read. Actually, to be more specific, they said very hard to read.
Hemingway's own writing only graded out as "okay" many instances.
I am in good company though. A writer at the New Yorker¬†details in this post how he plugged in some of Hemingway's own writing from several of his various stories, and found he only graded out as "okay" many times.
So it seems even Hemingway is guilty of using run-on sentences, bloated paragraphs and passive voice.
The app is free (for now), so¬†the next time your sentences grow to the point where they become ¬†difficult to understand, pare them with the Hemingway app.
And pretty soon you will be churning out content line this line from For Whom the Bell Tolls.
‚ÄúThere's no one thing that's true. It's all true.‚ÄĚ