WRITING: Listen to Hemingway

fullsizerender-6I knew the Hemingway App was big when my brother, a non-writer, mentioned how much he uses it. Although I’ve been writing for more than half of my life, for the most part, I have relied on old fashioned tools. I own a dictionary in book form. I do admit I gave up my fountain pen for a keyboard way back when.

Online tools are a fairly new revelation to me. Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com have a permanent tab in Safari. And I’ll be honest. I’m a lazy person who didn’t always reach for the dictionary or thesaurus on my bookshelf. Online, they are now my constant companions (a handbook or guide: a bird watcher’s companion).

Hemingway reminds me of my college freshman English professor. Miss Trueschler loved clear writing, simple writing, unadorned writing. (She probably would have hated that last sentence!)

The app hunts down passive voice, urges you to strike out weak adverbs and lame adjectives and alerts you if you have complicated sentences. You even get a grade. This column rates a 6 (or good). A few changes made it a better 5. I took out offending adverbs and adjectives and cut the run-on sentence. (But only for Hemingway; sometimes I like my original work better.)

I don’t use Hemingway all the time. But I run complicated passages through it and check my query letters and synopses.

Next to my online dictionary and thesaurus, Hemingway has become my constant companion, aide, ally, assistant, buddy, co-worker, colleague.

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