Write Like Hemingway, the App

Hemingway App is a text editor designed to keep your writing tight like Papa’s. Hemingway checks your text for areas that could be simplified or cut entirely.

The app highlights hard to read sentences, and suggests simpler alternatives to words like ‘utilize’ (use) and ‘individual’ (person.) It counts your adverbs, and highlights passive voice. All this is color coded so you can see problem areas at a glance. Your work is given a reading level as well. Lower is better.

So, what does Hemingway think of Hemingway? you might ask. The New Yorker tested the app with passages of his. According to Hemingway App, the first sentence of ‘A Clean Well Lighted Place’ should have been cut. The opening paragraph of that story reads at a grade 15 level, which I guess means college. The app defines clear writing as grade 10 or lower.

His dialogue does better. This passage from ‘The End of Something’ is written at a 4th grade level

“I don’t feel like eating,” said Nick.
“Come on and eat, Nick.”
“All right.”
They ate without talking, and watched the two rods and the fire-light in the water.

The New Yorker goes on to give a gorgeously adverb laden passage from The Sun Also Rises as an example of why it pays to break the rules sometimes.

If there’s one thing that polarizes the writing world more than the creep of tech into our craft, it is the bearded, rhino-chasing, alpha male of American letters. Many of us don’t want to write like Hemingway and don’t want a piece of code to take our adverbs away. There are some scathing reviews of the app out there. One blogger  shows us how it would have butchered the closing paragraph of Joyce’s ‘the Dead.’ Fair enough, but this app isn’t for James Joyce. It’s not really even for writers, (though I can think of a few who need it.) Hemingway is ideal for amateurs who don’t know the rules of good writing or how to break them. It’s a face-saver on important emails and practically a public service to anyone CCd on them.

For editors and content managers, Hemingway helps idiot-proof the writing that comes out of your organization. It saves time and red ink.

Here’s what Hemingway thinks of my review of Hemingway (click to enlarge.)

I had one personal issue with the app–it thinks ‘Daly’ is adverb.