"A writer's style should be direct and personal, his imagery rich and earthy, and his words simple and vigorous." - Ernest Hemingway
One of America's most renowned authors, Hemingway's unique, punchy, 'to-the-point' style was as influential as it was controversial.
Because he was trained to write for newspapers, the literary world found his clear, no-bullshit approach to be intimidating.
Know what? His writing is more relevant than it has ever been. Concise, direct and personal translate to web writing excellently.
Taking a figurative page from Hemingway's book could help improve your web writing immeasurably.
Applying the Tip
1. Use Short, Concise Sentences
"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
When challenged to write the shortest story, Hemingway proved his prowess with the above quote. He also proved that short sentences can have a huge impact.
In the era of online - with attention spans dwindling - quickly capturing your reader's attention is a valuable skill. And writing short sentences is a great place to start.
Long, rambling sentences will quickly have your readers dropping off like flies. Short sentences won't. I promise.
2. Use Strong, Bullshit-Free Language
- Excessive adjectives (powerful, innovative, state-of-the-art)
- Superlatives (amazing, awesome, great)
- Industry Jargon (core-competency, cutting-edge, results-driven, paradigm-shifting)
- Simpler word alternatives (e.g. 'use' instead of 'utilise')
- Engage readers with emotional instead of intellectual language (e.g. 'finished' instead of 'completed' - full list here)
- Benefits-driven facts, statistics, quotes and testimonials
- Active instead of passive voice (e.g. 'every student failed the exam' instead of 'the exam was failed by every student')
- An honest, personal writing voice (learn more from Copyblogger)
3. Follow the 'Iceberg Theory'
Coining the 'iceberg theory', Hemingway described how only 10% of the plot was written on the page. The other 90% was unspoken. When you're writing content, keep this in mind.
You don't need to burden your readers with an excess of information to be effective. Choose the most powerful, impactful '10%'. The rest can be left unspoken.
While none of us will ever be as legendary as the man himself, we can learn from Hemingway's wisdom and, in doing so, take steps towards becoming more persuasive, effective writers as a whole.
Daily Writing Tips is where I share my expertise on web writing, content strategy, online business, creativity, and more.