Forum / Hemingway

  • Self_portrait.thumb
    eamon byrne
    Jun 17, 12:49pm

    Having heard good things about the software program for writers called Hemingway, I moused over to the site and checked out their online editor.

    For those who don't know, Hemingway (named after the great writer who wrote the great fishing yarn about the old man and the sea) sits patiently behind your screen and colorises your badly chosen words in various inks, like blue for an adverb, green for a verb in the passive voice, yellow if your sentence is too long, and so forth. You get the idea. Pretty nifty, don't you think? Plus it can turn a word into italics, by clicking on it, and do headings and other quite clever things like saving your files or sending them to other people as email attachments.

    Joyce, who used to work on Finnegans Wake with boxes of coloured pencils, would be amazed with what they can achieve these days. Of course he would have to be alive.

    But the best thing about Hemingway is it gives you a readability score and coaxes you to keep working on your sentences until you clear up all the color blobs that it keeps putting on the words that it finds as not good. Especially adverbs.

    Using Hemingway, I've been told it's possible to write an entire novel using only two adverbs.

    Well, I love long and fairly complicated sentences. I can't help it, it's a bad habit. And I was wondering if I could write a long sentence in Hemingway without Papa pasting blue and green and yellow colors all over it. I thought it would take some effort, but thanks to Hemingway it really was a cinch.

    The test I gave Hemingway turned up results which I have to say were quite impressive. I started with these couple of sentences from Hemingway's test page:

    "You can utilize a shorter word in place of a purple one. Mouse over them for hints.

    Adverbs and weakening phrases are helpfully shown in blue. Get rid of them and pick words with force, perhaps."

    As well as that puzzling comma, Hemingway had "utilize" colored purple, with a hint "complex: replace or omit". and marked "helpfully" and "perhaps" in blue, with a hint for "helpfully" as "qualifier: be bold, don't hedge".

    Wow. This was exciting. All right, so Papa failed to notice that plural "them" didn't match with singular "word", but apart from that oversight, this looked to be exactly what I was looking for to clean up my messy Krasznahorkian sludge.

    I set out to combine these two sentences into one, and to expand it out a bit, like in my usual Bernhardian way, but without triggering any of Hemingway's color warnings. To get a clean, long sentence I figured would please Papa up in heaven.

    Here's what I came up with:

    "You can a shorter word in place of a purple one, and by mousing over them you have the assurance that by availing yourself with these tips you can use them as helpful hints which in no time will turn you into a great writer, although, and this is important, you must avoid the adverbs and weakening phrases which will force, and not help: the ones shown in blue: get rid of them and pick words with force, don't hedge."

    You'll notice I left a verb out of the space after "You can", since Hemingway had advised that as an option in his hint about "utilize". Sure enough, Papa passed my sentence with a clean slate.

    Now that's impressive.

    Worth the nineteen bucks asking price? Foke no.

  • Photo_00020.thumb
    Jun 17, 01:37pm

    An impressive and entertaining piece, eamon.

    While your Hemingway-approved paragraph serves well here, it could also well serve as a prompt for a flash satire . . . "Hemingway Wins the Booker Prize" or some something like that.

    Thanks for the alert.

  • -5.thumb
    RW Spryszak
    Jun 17, 01:56pm

    Hmmm. I use the old free version, and it counts your sentence as a big red blob = "Hard to read." I hope you didn't buy this?

    Like most software editors it has its prejudices. I like it a lot, personally. But it is not for the turgid or bellicose among us. And I wouldn't buy the unfree version. :-D

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Jun 17, 03:08pm

    Milk of thy mother...I give thanks for the warning!

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