After hearing about it for what seems like forever, I decided to give the Hemingway App a try. Those who have been around the blog for a while know that I’m a fan of minimalist writing. The app works to help keep your writing simple and clear.
You can check it out HERE.
The app highlights difficult and very difficult to read sentences, passive voice, weak sentence structure, adverbs, etc. If I plugged the previous sentence into the app, it would tell me to rewrite it like this: It highlights difficult to read sentences. It highlights very difficult to read sentences. It highlights passive voice. It highlights weak sentence construction. It highlights adverbs. It helps to keep your writing flowing.
We are officially using it on the book project. After using it to edit one chapter, I was sold. The only negative is that it is very labor intensive. But I guess editing is supposed to be that way. If you need something to help you clear-up your writing, you might want to give it a try. It costs around 20 bucks for the desktop version. We’re in no way connected to them, so I had to pay just like everybody else.
Here’s an example from chapter 1 of our book project. The purple highlights mean that each sentence is very difficult to read. The blue highlights mark an adverb and a qualifier:
Here’s the same paragraph after editing:
My friend Jeremy and I are launching a new site called Recognizing Christ (click HERE). We are working with a publisher and are hoping to launch a book in the next year or so. In light of that, we’re focusing our efforts on the new site. I will continue to monitor Tides and Turning, and probably make a post once in a blue moon, but my focus will be on the new site.
The new site is a work in progress, but in the coming months it will feature blog posts and a podcast focused on ‘Christ and culture’ primarily.
But here’s the main thing: You can also sign up for our insider updates where we’ll give updates on the progress of the book project, share what we’re reading and watching, and even let you read the first chapter of the book right before it goes to the publisher.
Want to know what the book is about? You’ll have to head over to www.recognizingchrist.com.
When there are many writers all employing the same idiom, all looking out on more or less the same social scene, the individual writer will have to be more than ever careful that he isn’t just doing badly what has already been done to completion…
The Southern writer is forced from all sides to make his gaze extend beyond the surface, beyond mere problems, until it touches that realm which is the concern of prophets and poets…
-Flannery O’Connor, The Grotesque in Southern Fiction, from Mystery and Manners, p. 45
Same goes for the preacher: don’t do what’s already been done to death, especially if you can’t do it as well as others who’ve done it. You’ll just end up being a bad copy of a bad copy. Extend your gaze beyond the surface always.
Speaking of writers using cliches.
…dead expressions, the cranked-up zombie emotion of a writer who feels nothing in his daily life or nothing he trusts enough to find his own words for.
-From John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist, p. 11
Preachers, push the Scriptures enough into your own experience that you demonstrate you’re trusting them enough to find your own words for what they are saying.
I really believe it’s the moments we can’t talk about that become the rest of our lives. It’s the moments we cannot process by telling a story that destroy us in the end.
-Palahniuk, from an interview with The Guardian
…The great acts of classical brutality (Oedipus gouging his eyes out; Clytemnestra slitting her husband’s throat) are never portrayed but rather reported by the characters or chorus – told but not shown. These days, tell is a bad word. But in the golden age of Athenian drama, telling was a celebrated technique. Acts of violence in Greek tragedy were rendered ob skene (literally ‘offstage’), from which comes the present day word obscene.
-Benjamin Percy, Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction, p. 52
The worst things happen offstage. This includes real life – what happens in our minds.