Hemingway & Short Sentences

Today, a short post on Hemingway’s four writing rules. His sparse, direct style is much-emulated and will no doubt remain so for a long time.

There are some interesting claims, especially the idea of being ‘positive’ instead of ‘negative,’ but perhaps the simplest ‘rule’ to embrace when working toward a minimalistic style is Hemingway’s first:

1. Use short sentences.

Long sentences have their place in writing. Complex ideas require complex construction, but remember, the more sub-clauses used, the more information you force your reader to store within their temporary or ‘working’ memory. Overload that memory and the reader has to re-read a sentence, and in fiction particularly, this can risk breaking ‘suspension of disbelief’ or pulling the reader out of the story.

So wherever possible, keep ‘em short.