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How to Write Like Hemingway: 5 Easy Tips to Improve Your Essays

Written by Ryan Bolton

Photo by U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

hemingway essay tips

Hemingway. His name alone conjures up images of a whiskey-swilling, big game hunter. And one of the best writers of the 20th century. It’s iconic. So who better to turn to for some easy essay tips?

Right now, you might be staring at a to-do list that has at least three essays on it. Go ahead, nod your head, despondently.

Fear not.

Here are 5 of Hemingway’s best essay tips that will take all your writing, from school papers to texts, to the next level.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence.”

This applies to every essay. The first line of each paragraph should outline what the paragraph is about. And it should be true. The remainder of the paragraph should be supporting evidence to back up your claim.

“Be brief.”

Hemingway’s greatest short story? This. For sale: baby shoes, never worn. You will undoubtedly be tempted to pad your essays, but instead, cut the fat. Make every word count. Your grade will reflect this.

“Read it all every day from the start, correcting as you go along.”

Don’t edit as you go along. Save that. Instead, after you’re done writing, step away. When you come back, read through what you have (reading out loud is even better), edit, then continue where you left off.

In an Esquire article, Papa wrote:

“The best way is to read it all every day from the start, correcting as you go along, then go on from where you stopped the day before.”

“Don’t repeat yourself.”

You can easily say the same thing in a multitude of ways. Don’t. Make your point, make it count, and then move along. Don’t belabour a point.

“This book began magnificently, went on very well for a long way with great stretches of great brilliance and then went on endlessly in repetitions that a more conscientious and less lazy writer would have put in the waste basket.”

“Let the pressure build.”

Well, there you have it. Hemingway is telling you to procrastinate. Don’t wait until the very last hour to pound out a 1,200-word essay, but let the pressure drive you.

“When I had to write it, then it would be the only thing to do and there would be no choice. Let the pressure build.”

In the end, writing is never easy. That’s kind of the point. Writing is never perfect and it can always be improved. Like Hemingway said, “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

Read More: 6 Things You Need to Fix Before Handing in Your Essay

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