After high school in 1917, Ernest Hemingway tried to join the army.
He was only 17. The army turned him down.
Through an uncle, he landed a job at the Kansas City Star.
Cub reporters were given a style sheet demanding:
Positive, not negative writing.
Eliminate all superfluous words.
Hemingway observed these rules in his novels.
His reporting shows an ability to convey scenes with sparse details.
“At the End of the Ambulance Run” begins:
The night ambulance attendants shuffled down the long, dark corridors at the General Hospital with an inert burden on the stretcher. They turned in at the receiving ward and lifted the unconscious man to the operating table. His hands were calloused. He was unkempt and ragged, a victim of a street brawl.No one knew who he was. A receipt bearing the name of George Anderson for $10 paid on a home out in a little Nebraska town served to identify him.
The surgeon opened the swollen eyelids. The eyes were turned to the left.
“A fracture on the left side of the skull,” he said to the attendants.
“Well, George, you’re not going to finish paying for that home of yours.”
Hemingway was famous for his terse, minimalist style.
He used few adjectives and got straight to the point.
He once told a story in only 6 words:
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Why would you want to write like this? For starters, readers like it. Writing like this gets to the point. It respects readers’ time and busy lives.
Try it. You may like it.
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