February 5, 2023
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA
Articles Writng Styles

Improvement Exercise – Write 25 Short Stories, Hemmingway Style

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, there is much to learn from Ernest Hemmingway. His spare, hard hitting style came from his background in journalism, birthed in Kansas City, fired in the trenches of World War I, and polished as a reporter for the Toronto Star.

He followed four rules of good writing:

1. Use short sentences

2. Use short paragraphs

3. Don’t just write active English, write vigorous English

4. Write what things are; don’t write what they are not.

His writing was active and hard hitting even when he dealt with love and family life. In modern terms, he wrote down to the bone. Each word meant something. Each phrase evoked a feeling or opinion. In Hemmingway’s case usually something manly and full of life.

There are several forms of writing that he developed into an art form. No matter what type of writing you do, you can learn a lot from trying to emulate him.

Here are twenty-five improvement exercises using five characteristics of Hemmingway short stories (plus one quote). Try them. They are guaranteed to improve your writing.

*. I’ve already talked about Hemmingway’s four rules. Now you’re going to experience each of them. Write five short stories of between 250 and 500 words. Obey the stated Hemmingway rule or rules:

1. Write a story using short sentences… in this case nothing longer than ten words.

2. Write a story using short paragraphs… in this case nothing longer than three sentences, an introduction, a statement, and a conclusion.

3. Write a story using nothing except vigorous English without falling into the trap of producing purple prose. Don’t just see the bullet. Feel the bullet bite. Taste the blood. Smell the cordite. Use all five senses actively.

4. Write a story without using the negative. Show us what things are. Talk about the warmth of the fire. The smell of the smoke. Don’t tell us about not being able to see through the smoke, tell us about what you see.

5. Write a short story that follows all the rules. No sentence longer than ten words. No paragraph longer than three sentences… don’t cheat! Keep your descriptions active. Be positive in your writing, not negative. Tell us what things are not what they aren’t.

* Write a short, short, and shorter still story. Hemmingway bragged that he had once told a story in only six words… For sale: baby shoes, never worn. So how short can you write a story?

6. Write a short story of 250 words. Then rewrite it in 25 words… losing nothing! Then write it in ten words. Convey all the emotions of the original.

7. Write a short story — a full story — in six words.

8. Write a short story illustrating joy. Try to keep it to six words, but no more than 10 words.

9. Write a short story illustrating fear. Try to keep it to six words, but no more than 10 words.

10. Write a short story illustrating anger. Try to keep it to six words, but no more than 10 words.

* Hemmingway was a master at writing conversation. At least one story consisted almost entirely of a conversation between two people.

11. Write a story using nothing but a conversation between two people.

12. Write a story using nothing but conversation between two people. However, this time the story must be told about a third person through the interactions of the two people. In other words, you can’t have one person telling the other a story. Make us cry for the third person, or laugh. But make us react.

13. Write a story using conversation only. Use no adjectives. Use no adverbs. However, show us their fear.

14. Write a story using conversation only. Use no adjectives. Use no adverbs. However, show us their joy.

15. Write a story using conversation only. Use no adjectives. Use no adverbs. However, show us their hatred of the third person.

* Hemmingway was a master of redirection. He would illustrate the human condition while talking about a single man. Three people would be enough for him to describe the evils of the entire Spanish Civil War. Fiction to him was like an iceberg. Just a tip showing itself to the world.

16. Write a story about one person fishing. Without telling us directly, reveal a tragedy he has experienced.

17. Write a story about one person climbing a mountain. Without telling us directly, reveal who is chasing him.

18. Write a story about one person on the shore. Without telling us directly, describe the effects of war.

19. Write a story about one person on the street. Using a conversation between two other people and without telling us directly, reveal a great tragedy in his life and its effect on him.

20. Write a story without anyone. Only a scene. But tell us the story of a person’s life.

* Hemmingway was known for his ability to describe action, and exact descriptions of locations.

21. Write a story describing action. Do not use adjectives. Do not use adverbs. Keep the sentences short and to the point.

22. Write a story describing a location. Do it in a conversation. Be exact. Be precise. How red is red. How blue is blue. Do not use adjectives. Do not use adverbs.

23. Write a story describing silence. Do not use adjectives. Do not use adverbs. Do not use negatives. What is the silence like?

24. Write a story describing a bullfight. Describe the ring exactly. Do not use adverbs. Do not use adjectives. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Let your words convey the action.

* And finally a quote… “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”

25. So on to your last improvement exercise… Write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know. It may not be a short story. But it might be the most important writing you do.



Source by Glen Ford

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