Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ernest Hemingway’s Seven Fiction-Writing Tips

Though he wasn’t always the best at living, one thing Papa Hemingway knew how to do was write. And though he’s known for his taut, clean prose, he wrote a lot of words to get himself there. Life Magazine sent Hemingway to Spain to do a series of articles on bullfighting. They wanted 10,000 words. Hemingway came back with about 130,000 of them. They were published in book form as Death in the Afternoon. Hemingway knew how to write. A lot.

So when Open Culture trolled through some of the vast stores of Heminwaybelia to cobble together seven fiction-writing tips from the master, we paid attention:
Hemingway never wrote a treatise on the art of writing fiction.  He did, however, leave behind a great many passages in letters, articles and books with opinions and advice on writing. Some of the best of those were assembled in 1984 by Larry W. Phillips into a book, Ernest Hemingway on Writing. We’ve selected seven of our favorite quotations from the book and placed them, along with our own commentary, on this page. We hope you will all -- writers and readers alike -- find them fascinating. 
Open Culture has included both quotes and comments, so you should definitely plan a visit in order to see where it all comes from. Meanwhile, here are the seven tips from Hemingway that they’ve put together:

1: To get started, write one true sentence.

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

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

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

5: Don’t describe an emotion -- make it.

6: Use a pencil.

7: Be brief.

The Open Culture piece is here.


Anonymous Normandie Alleman said...

Great tips, but I can't imagine NOT thinking about your story when you're not "working." That's like asking you to turn off your brain.

Monday, March 4, 2013 at 4:19:00 PM PST  

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