Software Review Writing Life

Why I Love Using The Hemingway Editor App

We all need an editor. Sure, asking friends or family can help, but sometimes you need an impartial set of eyes to look over your work. Having someone else to catch those simple errors or mistakes in flow is necessary for any writer. Many apps have arrived online over the past few years to help. A mainstay has been the Hemingway App, and with good reason.

The homepage of greets you with beautiful simplicity. Everything the app does is explained in neat text on one screen. Read everything there, and you know how to use the app. Proceed, and begin editing.

Hemingway Keeps it Simple

At its core, the Hemingway App is a simple word processor. You can turn off all its editing tools by clicking on “write” in the upper right-hand corner. Once you do, the app gives you a simple distraction-free place to compose. Simple formatting tools line up across the top of the screen, and the composition area is in the center. The simplest options are the only ones available, though. No extensive font choices, no limitless point sizes, no colors. If you want more extensive for your writing process, you are welcome to copy and paste the text from any other file. Once you do, though, your text will revert to Hemingway’s font and size. This may annoy you, but it shouldn’t. The editing process is about the words, not the frills. You can reinsert all the fancy stuff after you pass through this process.

Once you finish writing, no matter where you do it, it is time to click on the “edit” button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. This will engage the real power of the Hemingway App.

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The Power of Editing Mode

With editing mode engaged, your text becomes colorful, and a stats bar appears on the right side. This area of the screen displays the value of the app. The first thing you see is the “readability” of your writing, measured in grade level. This is based upon sentence structure and level of vocabulary used. Contrary to what you might think, the lower the grade level, the better. Ernest Hemingway’s own writing and books have been analyzed, and the consensus is that his most popular works are at a 4th to 6th grade reading level.

Why is this important? Why not try to make your writing be at a 12th grade level? The answer lies in your audience. Just because you are writing at a simpler level to read does not mean that your message has to be simplified. For example, why say “I am attracted to you in such a manner that is virtually unidentifiable in description other than to say that I feel this way toward no other human being on this or any other planet in the universe, past or present,” when you can say “I love you”? Keep it simple. If more people can understand your writing, then more people will read your writing. It’s as simple as that. The app only gives you a warning when your writing is at the 12th grade level, which should be reserved for academic papers.

A Plethora of Useful Stats

Below the readability analysis, a drop-down box of basic stats appears. This gives you facts about your writing that you may or may not find useful. If you do not find these stats useful, everything but the word count can be hidden from view.

Below the stats area is the bread and butter of the Hemingway App. A legend of five colors appears, corresponding to the highlighted portions of your writing. These are five important areas to focus on when reviewing and editing. The app can discover adverbs, use of passive voice, phrases or words with simpler alternatives, hard to read sentences, and very hard to read sentences. These areas are highlighted in your text, and the color-coded boxes on the right display statistics with suggestions inside.

For example, the app is not telling you to cut all adverbs, but it will suggest that you bring your count of adverbs down below a certain number relative to the length of your writing. Sometimes, the app misses things. Other times, the app highlights words that end in “ly” that are not adjectives. It’s not quite perfect, but it catches at least 95% of these typical problems in writing.

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You Still Have Control

The app will not correct things for you. You still have to do the work, which is how it should be. It will suggest simpler alternatives for the words and phrases highlighted in purple, but that is the most direct way in which the app will intervene. Whether to take the app’s advice is completely up to the writer. But chances are, you will perform many edits based upon the Hemingway App’s suggestions.

The app can handle a tremendous amount of script, too. I’ve copied and pasted up to 75,000 words of text into the editor and it analyzed it in seconds. Quite impressive.

The online app is free to use, as well. The only drawback is that it will not save your work. To get that feature, you can buy the desktop version of the app, which goes for $19.99 and works for both Mac and PC. The desktop app comes with many benefits, including the ability to import and export to and from the most popular types of text files. Also, the app now has the option to publish your writing directly to your account on either Medium or WordPress.

With its simplicity and power, I find the Hemingway App to be an essential tool in my writing arsenal.

Here are before and after shots of this very article, as I used the Hemingway App to edit it:




If you’re curious to learn more, here is an incredible video about Hemingway’s style and how it influenced the creation of the Hemingway App:

Related Links:

Hemingway editor App

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Writing Life

Four Pieces of Advice from an Editor

Editors Are Your Friends

Finding people locally who are immersed in the writing community on both a local and national level fills me with joy. In my local networking efforts, I had the pleasure to meet with a professional editor who was willing to let me pick her brain for an hour. I left our conversation feeling happy and better equipped to finish the first draft of my novel with confidence. Naturally, it seemed only right and proper to spread the wealth and share some of the advice I received with all of you. The following are four good take-away points, and certainly not a complete list:

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Learn to love the dreaded red pen…

1) Your story is not perfect. It needs an outside editor.

This is good news, actually. It means that even the best, most popular writers out there submit drafts to their editors with continuity errors, grammatical errors, and even spelling errors. It is quite daunting to put together hundreds of pages of story and make every single detail match, sound perfect, and basically look like what will ultimately end up on a bookshelf for people to buy. This is why there are editors, after all…they exist to help shape your work into a wonderful final product. Editors are to writers as George Martin was to The Beatles, if you need an analogy. If you don’t know who George Martin is, that’s okay. You probably don’t know the editors of your favorite books, either. But you should get to know both, and now.

2) Although it won’t be perfect, you still need to submit your best work.

Yes, editors expect that there will be errors involved in your draft, but your story does need to be written well enough to be worth editing. Don’t fill your draft with low-hanging fruit that will distract your editor. You must continually improve upon your grammar and language mechanics, as these are part of your craft. And when you submit your draft to an editor, make it the best it can be. The less work you give your editor to do, the easier it is for them to help make your story the best it can be.

3) Be flexible and easy to work with.

Once again, your story isn’t perfect. You might have, in the hours, days, and weeks that you spent alone staring at a computer screen writing your story, neglected to realize that you aren’t very good at writing dialogue in a Creole accent. Perhaps this needs to be changed in order for your story to work, and your editor is the one who cares enough to point this out. Editors are on the front lines, defending your book from being torn apart after it’s published.

You will get feedback that hurts and might make you feel angry, but it’s best if you move forward as quickly as possible and take their advice. Your editor has seen a ton of books, and they know what makes books successful. If they send you back a copy with a lot of red ink and remarks on how certain items need to change and/or be rewritten, then bask in the joy that you get to keep writing your beloved book! Make it the best it can be!

4) Keep a calendar while you’re writing. Plan. Keep track of your characters.

Create a separate calendar for your story. You can avoid common mistakes and continuity errors by simply keeping track of your story as though it has its own life and schedule…because it does. If you write a story that has a scene taking place on Thanksgiving, write that on your calendar. This will help you avoid making the scene happening “the next day” occur on a Saturday. If you describe your main characters in how they look, keep track of that somewhere so you don’t describe them with completely different hair color seventy pages later. Continuity is important. Your story is already fiction, but losing track of your own characters gives the reader a poor impression.

The moral of the story: Work hard, write well, but don’t think you’re finished until your editor is finished with you. Editors are your friends. If you get the opportunity to work with one, appreciate the fact that someone is helping your story become the best it can be.

Dive in deeper with these links:

The four levels of editing explained

First Drafts: what they should and shouldn’t be

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