App helps you write with clarity like Hemingway

Jeremy Mansfield
February 20, 2014



While in development of our latest version of The Ernest Hemingway Collection website, we ran across a helpful resource named the “Hemingway App“. As an ode to the man who was a passionate perfectionist with well-crafted words, two brothers and copywriters, Adam and Ben Long, sought to quell the deadline frustrations of their own work and come up with something that would be a second set of eyes to go over what they’ve written before they sent it on to a proof reader or their bosses.

Enter their idea for the Hemingway App. They wanted something that would exercise the straightforward writing style that Ernest Hemingway did in his writing. The brothers felt that if you followed Hemingway’s rule of short, declarative sentences by omitting long words and wordy sentences, it would provide greater impact and clarity for your writing.

According to their website, the Hemingway App “makes your writing bold and clear”, and essentially works like this: paste in something you’re working on and edit away. Or, click the “Write” button to compose something new. A javascript based algorithm then color-codes it, highlights the mistakes and assigns it a numerical grade for overall readability.

Yellow highlights long, complex sentences and common errors denoting them as “hard to read”; if you see a yellow highlight, shorten the sentence or split it.

If you see a red highlight, your sentence is so dense and complicated that your readers will get lost trying to follow its meaning. Translated, it’s “very” hard to read. Try editing it to be shorter, or break it up into shorter sentences.

Adverbs are helpfully shown in blue. Get rid of them and pick verbs with force instead.

Phrases in green have been marked to show passive voice.

While the app, overall, has had a great response from it’s users, it hasn’t come without some criticism of its own.

First of all, it actually grades some instances of Hemingway’s own writings very low. When the creators of the app were taken to task over this fact, they acquiesced to say that Hemingway deliberately departed from the standard rules of English because, as an artist and as a master of language, he knew how to get the effects he wanted. They also went on to say the rules built into the algorithm are meant as guideposts and not as laws.

Secondly, I hope these guys realize that the Hemingway name is trademarked property owned by the heirs of the Hemingway family. If they didn’t, expect a name change to come pretty soon. That is, unless they are an officially paying brand licensee of The Ernest Hemingway Collection.

In conclusion, if you are looking to have your crummy writing turned into quality prose, take a stab at the new Hemingway App (as it is currently named) by brothers Adam and Ben Long. If you’re looking to find out more about Hemingway, the man, and the adventures he lived, head on over to The Ernest Hemingway Collection brand licensing website and quench your thirst for adventure.

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