Thank You Ernest Hemingway

Each time I am writing a story, I read the following, and strive to do all except numbers 3 & 6 (which I will discuss in an upcoming post). This particular list comes from open culture.

In a writing phase, I read these every morning, every night, and of course, each time before I sit to write or edit. I actually have it set as my homepage, so whenever I open the browser, there it is.

1: To get started, write one true sentence.

Hemingway had a simple trick for overcoming writer’s block. In a memorable passage in A Moveable Feast, he writes:

Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.

2: Always stop for the day while you still know what will happen next.

There is a difference between stopping and foundering. To make steady progress, having a daily word-count quota was far less important to Hemingway than making sure he never emptied the well of his imagination. In an October 1935 article in Esquire “Monologue to the Maestro: A High Seas Letter”) Hemingway offers this advice to a young writer:

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it.

3: Never think about the story when you’re not working.

Building on his previous advice, Hemingway says never to think about a story you are working on before you begin again the next day. “That way your subconscious will work on it all the time,” he writes in the Esquire piece. “But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” He goes into more detail in A Moveable Feast:

When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written. If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing you were writing before you could go on with it the next day. It was necessary to get exercise, to be tired in the body, and it was very good to make love with whom you loved. That was better than anything. But afterwards, when you were empty, it was necessary to read in order not to think or worry about your work until you could do it again. I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

4: When it’s time to work again, always start by reading what you’ve written so far.

To maintain continuity, Hemingway made a habit of reading over what he had already written before going further. In the 1935 Esquire article, he writes:

The best way is to read it all every day from the start, correcting as you go along, then go on from where you stopped the day before. When it gets so long that you can’t do this every day read back two or three chapters each day; then each week read it all from the start. That’s how you make it all of one piece.

5: Don’t describe an emotion–make it.

Close observation of life is critical to good writing, said Hemingway. The key is to not only watch and listen closely to external events, but to also notice any emotion stirred in you by the events and then trace back and identify precisely what it was that caused the emotion. If you can identify the concrete action or sensation that caused the emotion and present it accurately and fully rounded in your story, your readers should feel the same emotion. In Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway writes about his early struggle to master this:

I was trying to write then and I found the greatest difficulty, aside from knowing truly what you really felt, rather than what you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel, was to put down what really happened in action; what the actual things were which produced the emotion that you experienced. In writing for a newspaper you told what happened and, with one trick and another, you communicated the emotion aided by the element of timeliness which gives a certain emotion to any account of something that has happened on that day; but the real thing, the sequence of motion and fact which made the emotion and which would be as valid in a year or in ten years or, with luck and if you stated it purely enough, always, was beyond me and I was working very hard to get it.

6: Use a pencil.

Hemingway often used a typewriter when composing letters or magazine pieces, but for serious work he preferred a pencil. In the Esquire article (which shows signs of having been written on a typewriter) Hemingway says:

When you start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none. So you might as well use a typewriter because it is that much easier and you enjoy it that much more. After you learn to write your whole object is to convey everything, every sensation, sight, feeling, place and emotion to the reader. To do this you have to work over what you write. If you write with a pencil you get three different sights at it to see if the reader is getting what you want him to. First when you read it over; then when it is typed you get another chance to improve it, and again in the proof. Writing it first in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve it. That is .333 which is a damned good average for a hitter. It also keeps it fluid longer so you can better it easier.

7: Be Brief.

Hemingway was contemptuous of writers who, as he put it, “never learned how to say no to a typewriter.” In a 1945 letter to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, Hemingway writes:

It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.



“Who am I?”

I am an independent, self-published teller of tales. I am an author of scarcely any renown. However, as a storyteller, I know who I am, and with that persona, I am both confident and comfortable. I invite you to visit my website,  ShortStoryScribe.com and/or Amazon Author Page, if you are so inclined please purchase a copy and leave a review.

Thank you,

Joe

amazon.com/author/docjoeleonardi

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Thank You Ernest Hemingway

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

kelleysdiy

Where Creativity and Imagination Creates Wonderful Ideas for Your Home!

When staying married is hard

Marriage, Counselling, Dating, Relationship

Storytime With Trinity

When reading StorytimewithTrinity, I want my readers to be able to feel the emotions of the words.. I want my readers to envision theirselves in the scenes.. Rather its a love story, A story of Revenge, A story of hurt and pain, or even if its just one of those drop off moments.

On Blunt Scattered Oceans

The music and the diamonds

sondersojourn

Words and stuff.

sisterswithabooktique.wordpress.com/

For the love of books <3

Elin's Era

Life under the thinking tree

Erotic Story and Sex Story

You are at the right place if you love sex stories and erotic stories.

Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum

Miss Not His

He's a husband, but he's not mine.

But, she was fierce

Dirty sex, sad moments and self discovery

Malcolm's Round Table

The real when closely observed becomes magical.

J.J. Shaun

Tavern Tales

Jerryland

A Vision Quest of Words

Honest Aromas

Directing into a path of wholeness

iBLOGalot

The Official Weblog of J.R. LeMar

This Here and Now

A record for times to come.

Agantuk, The Stranger's Desk

Explore, Implore and Reverberate

The Expressible Café

Expressing moments of Inspiration within a cozy setting

Life Begins at 40

"do it with passion or not at all" - anonymous

Complicated Unrealistic Love

Did you fall in love with someone you weren’t supposed to? Please share your experiences.

Beauty and the Bean Boots

Oh, the Places You'll Go with a Book

The Curious Atheist

Freely Seeking Truth

August bloom!!

Get emptied and refilled..............

Samantha Neugebauer

REFUSING TO CANNIBALIZE MY LIFE

no filter, no edit

hunting dreams & achievements

Cuppa Tea

Home is a place where your heart is..

PSYCHOTHERAPIST * COUNSELLOR * FILM SCREENWRITER * COMEDY PLAYWRIGHT * Dr.FAWZY MASAOUD * LONDON. ENGLAND

PSYCHOTHERAPIST/COUNSELLOR . *** CONTACT Email: dr.fawzyblogs@yahoo.com

Indians Abroad Desi Videsh Me

Lifestyle - Cooking tips - Travelling in Europe- Emotional support - Integrating with locals -Easy Recipes-Gardening

Sneha's Expression - For Women

Feminist and Personal development blog

thriftyshopper7.wordpress.com/

Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Salacious Succubus

the art of titilation

Ler Agora

Você bem informado(a)

American Daze Purple Haze

To live and die in America.

AmarSangha

check out my new story published in the JUNE 2019 issue of Hello Horror!

Silence and the Spectrum

A Bilateral Hearing Loss & Severe Autism Story.

PROUD & FREE - FIER & LIBRE

SELF IMPROVEMENT, FITNESS, RELATIONSHIPS, ACTION, SEDUCTION, MOTIVATION, EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BE PROUD & FREE !

%d bloggers like this: