Write like Hemingway — no, not drunk, but better.

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in shockproof shit-detector.
Ernest Hemingway

I just love, love, love Scrivener. It’s one of the few applications that has never let me down. In all the years using it I can recall one crash of this application with zero data loss. It made writings like my dissertation or this book on organizing creativity possible. And I’m currently writing a website dealing with organizing creativity specifically for science with it.

But one of the things I sorely miss is some better feedback on my writing.

I don’t mean that stupid paperclip from Word, or the equally stupid underlining of problems with the grammar. I mean highlighting sentences that are too long. Overly complex words. Things you can get by simply counting the amount of words in a sentence, or from good books on writing like Alley’s “The Craft of Scientific Writing”. There is a lot you can automate — but few do.

However, there is an interesting webpage that does exactly that called HemingwayApp.com: It highlights sentences that are (very) hard to read, adverbs, overly complex words, or the use of passive voice.

HemingwayApp

Screenshot of HemingwayApp.com

Just copy and paste your text in the window and it will highlight possible problems. The creators even state that:

Remember: Hemingway’s rules are guides, not laws. You can break them if you know what you’re doing.

something that should always be remembered.

Caveat: I have absolutely no idea what they are doing with the text you write/copy-paste on their website. So best not use it for text you want to keep private. And as usual, use on your own risk.

I’ve tried it with a few texts and I love it. The developers should not go for a desktop version, but work with developers like Keith Blount (Scrivener) and others to integrate these features in existing apps. It would be a boon.

But until this happens, it might be helpful to try out their website.

Categories: Doing Science, Improving your Creativity, Infrastructure, Other Programs, Realizing Creative Projects, Science, Tools, Writing



2 Comments on Write like Hemingway — no, not drunk, but better.

  1. Thomas Bröker // May 1, 2014 at 6:52 pm //

    I didn’t know HemingwayApp yet. Until now I have only used ‘BlaBlaMeter’ (.com/.de) but it doesn’t give such detailed information about the text. It’s more or less just the ‘shit-detector’ from the quote of Hemingway. It’s a pity that HemingwayApp is not offered in a german version.
    Concerning the integration with Scrivener … I had already added such a feature on my ‘Improvement suggestions list’ for Scrivener. I got to know to ‘Papyrus Autor’ (papyrus.de) which offers a similar analysis of texts as HemingwayApp. But the editor can’t compete with Scrivener. I would love to see both advantages combined.

  2. Daniel // May 2, 2014 at 1:23 am //

    Yup, I agree, an integration in Scrivener would be a nice feature. Regarding a version for text in German, I’m not sure, but I think it would be possible to modify the Hemmingway-Code. After all, the hemingway-doubleup-obf.js seems to contain the necessary code and some of the words are readable near the end of the file. However, it would probably involve more than just exchanging these words. Hopefully software features like these will become more common in Word Processors in the future. Highly under-utilized feature of writing software.

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