6 Ernest Hemingway Tips for Writing Clearly

ernest hemingway tips


When it comes to forceful, and concise writing, there are very few people who could match Ernest Hemingway. What makes his work so profoundly immersive, is that he does not go for flowery wordplay, yet he always gets to the heart of the matter. If you want to write as effectively as Ernest Hemingway, you should take a feather from his cap.

Here are some lessons we garnered from his writing style that will help you write clearly and efficiently.


1. Use positive wordplay

When it comes to writing in a clear and efficient manner like Ernest Hemingway, you should utilize positive wordplay regularly. Instead of saying that an object, person, or situation is not something, you should call it as it is. For example, instead of saying that a person is not tall, you could call him or her short. This is much more efficient, and will add to your overall narrative.

2. Utilize robust wordplay

If you take a look at Hemingway’s work, you will notice that he used a lot of robust or powerful wordplay. This allowed him to instill a sense of substance to all of his work. Remember that the more powerful your wordplay, the more compelling your work will be. Robust wordplay is meant to emphasize the intensity of a situation or an emotion.

If you are writing a specific situation, such as when your character is running from an enemy, you should not just say that he ran fast. You could show how desperately he ran. You could describe him as straining, bursting his lungs, and just huffing and puffing as he ran. This will show your readers a more detailed scene, and allow him or her to actually feel the sensation of running as well. By utilizing robust wordplay, you will be able to make your writing more immersive.

3. Limit your use of adjectives and adverbs

If you want to get your message across to your readers, you should limit the amount of adjectives and adverbs to your writing. While adjectives and adverbs are an important aspect of writing, if you overuse them, you won’t do your work any favors.  Remember that adjectives are descriptive words, and adverbs are modifiers. If you use too much of them in your writing, you will make your work overly detailed, and long winded. If you want to write like Hemingway, simplicity is key.

4. Shorten your sentences

While some writers think it is better to write in long winded and blocky sentences, this makes it more difficult for readers to read. If you want to make your writing more efficient, write in shorter sentences.

This will allow you to get to the heart of the matter, and not waste time on unnecessary wordplay. As a rule, you should write a maximum of two sentences. Anything more than that will sound overly long, and unwieldy. You should also avoid repeating your sentences. This often counts as lazy writing by most readers, and will turn them off from your writing.


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5. Limit your use of dialogue tags

Limiting your use of dialogue tags is a great way to minimize your wordplay, and write more concise sentences. Dialogue tags are used to give ownership, to certain bits of dialogue. Some examples of dialogue tags are he said, she said, he interjected, etc.  Dialogue tags could be added before, in the middle, or at the end of a dialogue. However, if you use them too much, you may make your writing sound clunky and redundant. Limit your use of dialogue tags.  Use them at the beginning, or at any part of the dialogue, just as long as you don’t use them for every part of the dialogue.

6. Stay away from obscure words and jargon

A common mistake that many writers make, is that they tend to use obscure words and jargon. They use these kind of words because they think these words will make their writing sound more impressive.

However, obscure words and jargon tend to confuse a good number of readers. Jargon are words that are too technical, and if you use them in your writing, they will most likely not understand. You may also waste valuable time in explaining the jargon to them. As a rule, you should just avoid obscure words, and jargon as a whole.


If you want to write as clearly and efficiently as possible, it always helps to get writing tips from the works of Ernest Hemingway. He was known for his clear yet powerful writing. With these tips, you’ll be able to write clearly and effectively.

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