Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Have you tried Hemingway?

I have a love-hate relationship with Hemingway.

It's slow. It's clunky. The interface is horrible. I could go on. But, it works. It forces me to slash my run-on sentences until the yellow or purple go away. It challenges me to get rid of all the big words and adjectives. It took this book from a ninth-grade to a fourth-grade level. I know, that sounds bad, but the book is so much easier to read.

The dumbing down. Is it good?

I’ve wrestled with that one, over-and-over. Hemingway fought me on simple words like “require.” It highlighted it in purple. It said I should use “need” or “must.” It threw a fit when I typed “eliminate." It suggested simpler words like "cut," "drop," and "end." But, it didn’t flag “antecedent.” What the hell?
Two words I overuse are “just” and “really.” Hemingway highlights them in blue to let me know they are on the don't use list. Adverbs are bad. They recommend that you use fewer than one for every eighty words.

Ugh!

In case you're wondering. The original text for this chapter started out at the ninth-grade-level. After several runs through Hemingway, it's at the third-grade level.

Is that too low?

I'm not sure. It's a quick, easy read. Anyone can understand it and put the advice in it into action. That's what writing is all about, right?

Okay. Enough bitching and moaning.

You want to know how Hemingway works and if it’s the right tool for you.

Hemingway is a text editor.

You can import documents into it from Word, or you can copy and paste text into it. If you want, it has a “write” mode so that you can use it as your word processor. I wouldn’t recommend that. Except for the shortest documents, it would be a pain in the ass.

The right-hand column is the heart of Hemingway. The first box tells you how easy your text is to read. It does that by assigning a grade level. From what I’ve seen, lower is better. Hemingway likes it when you write at the third to sixth-grade level. More people can understand it.

Below this, it shows your word count. I can start out with one thousand words, By the time I make all my cuts, my document can be 800 words or less. It’s hard to make those highlights go away.

What highlights you ask?