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.
dumbing down. Is it good?
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?
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.
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.
that too low?
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?
Enough bitching and moaning.
want to know how Hemingway works and if it’s the right tool for you.
is a text editor.
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.
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
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.
highlights you ask?
examines five areas of your writing. It looks for adverbs, the use of passive
voices, and words that have simpler meanings. It highlights hard to read
sentences, and harder to read sentences.
are adverbs? They are words that modify verbs or adjectives. Most of them end
in -ly. By themselves, they are not bad.
People tend to overuse them. They tell you things you already know. “Billy is
tired.” Versus “Billy is really tired.”
Both sentences mean the same thing. “Really” is an extra word in the second
sentence. It doesn’t do anything. So, why not get rid of it?
doesn’t tell you that adverbs are bad. It warns you if you use too many of
them. When you hover over an adverb, you get the option to click [omit]. Don’t
do it. There must be a glitch. When I
click on omit, it garbles the word
instead of omitting it.
of passive voice is another biggie that can kill your writing. Whenever possible, use action verbs to move the story
forward. “Is,” “was,” “has been,” and “are.” We use them all the time.
are passive. There isn’t any action. Which sentence sounds better? “Nick is
climbing the hill.” Or, “Nick climbed the hill.”
second sentence sounds better. It shows Nick in action. A lot of writers get
lazy. They don’t realize how many times they use passive verbs, so they let
them slide by.
and Grammarly point out passive voices. Hemingway tells you how many times you
use them and how many are okay.
next one bothers me. Phrases that have simpler
understand not everyone owns a dictionary. Not everyone went to college. But,
some of the words Hemingway flags don’t make sense. Who doesn’t understand “require,” “modify,” or “examine?”
it’s brilliant. When you reread your document after you make the substitutions,
it flies by. There’s no confusion. No stumbling over words.
hover your cursor over the highlighted word. A
box opens up. It displays several words you can substitute. Click on the one
you want to use. Better yet, manually make the correction. There is less chance
don’t have to change every word Hemingway flags, but the more of them you revise, the easier it is to read your book.
It highlights sentences that are hard to read in tan. Check each sentence carefully. Sometimes you can get by with
just chopping one or two words. Other times, you need to work at it. Phrases or
unnecessary words at the beginning of the sentence can be a problem. I have a
habit of beginning sentences with “basically” or “necessarily.” When you get
rid of these words, many times the highlight disappears. Other phrases we like
to stick at the beginning of sentences can cause problems. Some of these are,
“I think,” “in my opinion,” or “in many cases.” Get rid of these qualifiers, and the highlight disappears. And,
the funny thing is when you reread the sentence, it sounds better. It is easier
final category is very hard to read sentences. Many of these occur in quotes.
People tend to go on and on when they are talking. Run-on sentences are common. If it’s an interview you conducted, the
sentences are easy to correct. When you use a
historical quote things get more complicated.
tried using Hemingway with a chapter from one of my history books.
Lincoln talked in circles. George Washington’s writing is boring and confusing as hell. The only way to
correct it and kill the purple highlights is to pick and choose the portions of
the quote you want to use. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it changes the meaning
of the quote. Then readers start flagging you for taking liberties with
best advice is to use Hemingway to clean up what you can if you’re editing
historical or scientific writing. Use it to clean up your editorial comments.
Leave Lincoln and Washington alone.
book will still be more readable.
What bothers me the most is Grammarly, Hemingway, and Word don’t play well together.
don’t agree on a lot of things. Grammarly makes you remove a comma. Word says
you should add it. Word says you should hyphenate a word. Grammarly says you
is right? Who is wrong?
the real question. And, it’s one we can’t answer. Many grammar and punctuation
rules aren’t hard and fast. They leave room for personal interpretation.
the best you can, and move on. Your document is going to be 99 percent better
than when you started. That’s a good thing. Celebrate it.