When speaking aloud, you punctuate constantly — with body language.
Your listener hears commas, dashes, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks as you shout, whisper, pause, wave your arms, roll your eyes, wrinkle your brow.
In writing, punctuation plays the role of body language. It helps readers hear the way you want to be heard.
Russell Baker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and columnist who authored the autobiographies Growing Up and The Good Times.
Ernest Hemingway‘s writing style is known almost instantaneously by most readers. It is distinctive, recognizable, and influential. Critics believe his style was honed during his time being a cub reporter in Kansas City. Using short, rhythmic sentences, and selecting only those elements essential to the story, he created a clean style that works with having a journalistic background.
Featured today in my Editor’s Toolkit, the Hemingway App.
The Hemingway App shows you what is wrong with your writing in a clear and easy-to- follow method. Overly long sentences show up in yellow. Adverbs appear in blue. Words or phrases that can be simplified, purple. Green indicates passive voice. And red sentences are very hard to read.
Writer Ian Crouch of The New Yorker took Hemingway’s own writing and put it through the Hemingway App. The opening paragraph from Hemingway’s short story,”A Clean, Well-Lighted Place“, only scored Grade 15 (OK).
It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference. The two waiters inside the cafe knew that the old man was a little drunk, and while he was a good client they knew that if he became too drunk he would leave without paying, so they kept watch on him.
I hope this allows you to see how you can utilize different tools and websites to make your writing stronger and more concise. Be sure to check out the other Editor’s Toolkit posts including The Punctuation Guide and the OneLook Reverse Dictionary. Come back for what’s upcoming the rest of the week, as I highlight what else is in my Editor’s Toolkit.
Feel free to let me know what is in your Editor’s Toolkit in the comments and I will mention you if it becomes part of the series.
Know of other useful writing apps that aren’t included here? Let me know about them on Twitter!