Hemingway, objectively speaking…


“The closest thing I’ve found to a “formula” for good prose was laid out in an article titled “How Did Hemingway Write?” by Allen Josephs.

I would recommend that you read the entire article, but here is the gist of what he laid out as Hemingway’s methodology:

1. Invent from experience. Josephs argues, based on quotes from Hemingway, that all writing has an element of invention in it. He theorizes that writing from experience is essential, but even more so, the ability to combine that experience with imagination and invention to produce a “higher reality”, is what makes good prose.

2. Omit. Josephs describes this as the “iceberg theory”, or the “theory of omission”. He argues that what is depicted in the text should only be the tip of the iceberg, and that the rest of the iceberg, beneath the water, should only be known to the author. This forces the reader to actively engage and interpret the text, and he argues that this is the key to engaging the reader’s imagination, by leaving things out. Continue reading “Hemingway, objectively speaking…”