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Hemingway stayed with the Kansas City Star
only 7 months. He wanted to get into the
action of WW1, so he found his way to Italy
and drove a Red Cross Ambulance there.

But he really learned those 4 key style points.

Here's a fuller version of his praise for
the core lessons of the KC Star style sheet.

"Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing. I've never forgotten them. No man with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the thing he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides with them."

I hope it inspires you as much as it does me...


James Sadler

Hemingway is a personal favorite of mine. he was a believer in cutting any unnecessary words from his writings, be they fiction or non-fiction. He labored at eliminating adjectives to achieve this clarity. He probably spent more time editing and cutting than he did on the actual writing.

After he finished "The Old Man and the Sea," he wrote his brother, Leichester, telling him that he did not think there was single wasted word in the book. He may be right. It is a lean, powerful tale. So lean that it may well be the only book ever written to have very nearly every scene transposed into the film version. Of, course, Papa oversaw the film script and the actual filming.

However, he may have had a few habits we might want to avoid. He did drink heavily, which probably contributed to the severe depression he suffered in his last years. He was a hopeless wonmanizer. He married four times. Since he commited suicide at age 60, he basically was trading in a wife every ten years or so of his adult life.

Oddly, I think some of his best writing came out after his death, e.g., "Island in the Stream" and "A Moveable Feast." Then again, "True at First Light" was pretty bad, there's probably a reason why he never published it during his lifetime. He probably could have entered parts of it in the annual "Bad Hemingway" contest.

Peter Stone

Hi David, Jim and James.

Yes, yes, yes. I agree, emphatically.

Best regards,

Derek Andrews

Is 'vigorous English' the same as 'active voice'?

David Garfinkel

It's more than just active voice.

It's muscular, forceful. Vigorous English comes from passion, focus and intention. It's the difference between putting in a good effort and TRYING to move a boulder... and actually sweating, grunting, straining your muscles to the point of exhaustion... and MOVING the freaking thing! :)

Alex Biddle

"Then again, "True at First Light" was pretty bad, there's probably a reason why he never published it during his lifetime."

Possibly because it was edited by his son; Hemingway may have cut it to a much leaner book. However it gives you an idea of the nostalgia he felt when looking back at previous memories from "Green Hills of Africa".

Richard Atkinson

Hemingway is one of my favorite writers. I love his writing particularly in 'The Torrents of Spring' and 'For Whom The Bells Tolls'. He had a way of getting every ounce out of writing and life. As much as possible, I follow his example. The more clearly you edit, the more you create great writing. The more clearly you choose, the more you create a great life.

Nike Shox Oz

Your blog is so wonderful. How lucky to see what you have written. Hope you continue to work hard. I wish you have a good health.

F Horn

I work in internet marketing and I find that your guide on good copy writing is also applicable to my line of work. Your guide is short and concise.

Barbara Vroman

Ah yes, bread, blood, burp, all the four letter words. However...would you reduce Churchill's,"We will fight on the beaches, in the mountains, in the city, in the forests and we will never never give up!" to "We will fight on the beaches, the hills, the cities and forests and never give up." Some majesty gone, don't you think? It would be boring if we all wrote like Hemingway. We would lose Faulkner and James Joyce and scores of other enchanting writers.

Barbara Fitz Vroman: (I don't have Churchill's exact words before me, but think it makes my point."

Keith Chopping

I agree - didn't Hemingway also say that writers needed a built-in bull**** detector ?

David Garfinkel


You make a good point.

I'm not Hemingway, so I'm not going to mess with either his rules or Churchill's admittedly stirring prose.

I guess in response to your statement, I would say, if you have reached the level of proficiency with the language that Hemingway, Faulkner, James Joyce, and others, then you certainly have the right to write or speak any way you want.

Absent that, it would be a very good idea to follow Hemingway's four rules.

For as boring as you think it would be if we all wrote that way, it would be one hell of a lot easier and more pleasurable to read writing following those rules than it is to try to wade through the flabby, disjointed and incoherent word salad most people try to pass off as "writing."

David Garfinkel



The quote being floated around the Internet quote sites is:

"Develop a built-in bullshit detector."


Hi David,

I'm glad to stumble upon your website, I have subscribe to the newsletter and I'm looking forward to having my first tutorial. Thanks

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