Giving In to Hemingway

A New Project. Along with working on my novel, I’ve begun to write a short story for a zine. This endeavor marks the first time I’ve ever been under deadline for creative writing. Not only am I feeling the pressure of submitting on time, but I’m also facing the difficult task of doubling the amount of time I spend writing each day. Two hours doesn’t sound like much, but it’s been difficult to find even one free hour in a day. So I decided that this wasn’t stressful enough, and thought to conduct a little writing experiment.

The Experiment. Before I tell you about the experiment, I should explain that I’m sick of being fed Ernest Hemingway philosophies in every book/website on writing. Hemingway always struck me as a man’s man writer, and I’ve never been big on those (don’t even get me started on Bukowski). More than just the masculinity, his style of writing is too bare for my personal tastes.

But…sometimes I do feel like I use a heavy descriptive voice as a desperate crutch to ensure the reader is clear on the mood and reasoning behind scenes and actions. The more I read my work, the more it bothers me.

My style has affected my ability to write a quality short story. I drafted about a page of the short story I’m currently working on before realizing that I was going down the usual path of over-zealous description. When I read the page later that day, I knew something had to change.

I decided to give in to Hemingway; to pare down the narrative; to write on the tip of the iceberg.

Though hopping around on one leg all day would feel more natural to me than writing the bare-minimum, it forced me to view phrasing and description from a new perspective. I’m beginning to wonder if I don’t need that leg after all.

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