Looking for a writer to model your own writing after? Why not the master, Ernest Hemingway? I know, you’re thinking, “I’m not a novelist. I’m a copywriter.” I got ‘cha. But, reach back into your memory and recall the writing style of Hemingway. Are your there yet?
Hemingway didn’t embrace the flowery prose of the literati; he chose to write simply and clearly. So here’s what you can learn from the Tao of Hemingway.
Use Short Sentences
Hemingway was famous for a terse minimalist style of writing. He dispensed with flowery adjectives and got straight to the point. In short, he wrote with simple genius.
Use Short First Paragraphs
Start the same way this blog entry does. Get to the point.
Use Vigorous Language
Vigorous language isn’t weak, limp, lame, or pathetic. No. It’s muscular, forceful. It is born from passion, focus, and intention. Vigorous language is the difference between putting in a good effort to move a boulder … and sweating, grunting, and straining your body to the point of exhaustion and actually moving the freaking thing!
In All Things, Be Positive, Not Negative
Hemingway wasn’t the cheeriest guy in the world, right? So what could this mean? Simple. Say what something is rather than what it isn’t.
You see, when you say what something isn’t, you are being counterproductive since it is still directing the mind, albeit in the opposite way. Use economical instead of inexpensive; inexpensive instead of cheap; pre-owned instead of used. You get the point.
Never Have Only Four Rules
Actually, Hemingway did only have four rules for writing, and they were the ones he picked up as a cub reporter at the Kansas City Star in 1917. But, as any copywriter knows, four rules will never do.
And now, as a bonus for reading this entire entry … Hemingway’s most important writing tip of all:
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”