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!
4. Be positive, not negative.
Since Hemingway wasn’t the cheeriest guy in the world, what does he mean by be positive? Basically, you should say what something is rather than what it isn’t.
By stating what something isn’t can be counterproductive since it is still directing the mind, albeit in the opposite way. If I told you that dental work is painless for example, you’ll still focus on the word “pain” in “painless.”
• Instead of saying “inexpensive,” say “economical,” • Instead of saying “this procedure is painless,” say “there’s little discomfort” or “it’s relatively comfortable,” • And instead of saying “this software is error-free” or “foolproof,” say “this software is consistent” or “stable.”
5. Never have only 4 rules.
Actually, Hemingway did only have 4 rules for writing, and they were those he was given as a cub reporter at the Kansas City Star in 1917. But, as any web writer knows, having only 4 rules will never do.
So, in order to have 5, I had to dig a little deeper to get the most important of Hemingway’s writing tips of all:
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
“My work has escaped my control, and I have produced a monster; an immensely long, complex, rather bitter, and rather terrifying romance, quite unfit for children (if fit for anybody); and it is not really a sequel to The Hobbit, but to The Silmarillion. Ridiculous and tiresome as you may think me, I want to publish them both — The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings. That is what I should like. Or I will let it all be. I cannot contemplate any drastic rewriting or compression. But I shall not have any just grievance (nor shall I be dreadfully surprised) if you decline so obviously unprofitable a proposition.”—a letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to his publishers, February 1950 (via historical-nonfiction) Even Tolkien had his insecurities!
In the 1920s, Viennese scientist Bela Schick coined the term “menotoxins” to describe what he believed were plant-destroying substances that escape through the skin of menstruating women. He notes that menotoxins prevent dough from rising and beer from fermenting.