Web app for writers channels the spirit of Hemingway
March 20, 2014
Hemingway is a simple web app designed to help writers write simpler copy. You can't save documents, share them, organize them or comment on them. You just paste in your text, follow its advice, and copy it to get it out again. But it's very effective.
It works by highlighting problem text:
- Sentences that are hard to read in yellow
- Very hard to read in red
- Adverbs in blue
- Words with simpler alternatives in purple
- Use of the passive voice in green
The app knows that the passive voice and adverbs aren't always bad. It recommends a quota of each based on the length of your piece of writing.
Ben and Adam Long made the app. They named it after Ernest Hemingway, who was famous for his uncomplicated style of writing.
As you've guessed, I edited this story in Hemingway before publication. I tried to write a simple first draft, but it still found problems. To begin with, it scored grade 11 (OK). By the end I got it down to 4. Anything under 10 is good.
Writers could do worse than try Hemingway. You wouldn't want to edit thousands of words at once, but it's excellent for a few hundred at a time. You might not want to take all its advice, but it will catch things you want to change.
The Longs are working on a desktop version which will add the ability to open and save text files. I hope it's as useful.
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