As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I was very reluctant to try a creative writing self-help book. So you can imagine my reaction to hearing about the Hemingway app.

“An app which professes to make you a better author? How dare you!” I cried in dismay.

Here’s the thing

It works. Let me qualify that statement. It won’t improve your plot or characters, and your writing style is entirely your own to play with. But what it will do is improve the reader’s experience. Not just fiction authors, it’ll work for bloggers too.

What it does

It’s simple to use. You copy something you’ve written and paste it into the text box. That’s all happening on the home page. There’s no need to press any buttons and it’s free. I’m sure there’s a paid version, but I don’t see why you’d need it. That’s how you know they’re not paying me to write this. Hold onto your money!

Once the text is in the box parts of it will be highlighted in one of five colours. There’s a useful legend on the right which tells you what these colours mean. Essentially, it’s showing you how what you’ve written can be streamlined.

Text is highlighted as:

  • Hard to read: this means you can delete a superfluous word or two to improve the flow.
  • Very hard to read: this will require more serious editing to hold the reader’s attention.
  • Phrases with similar alternatives: a reader might find a long word confusing, so the Hemingway app suggests a shorter option.
  • Adverbs: e.g. “quickly”, some writers detest these and think a story reads better if they’re completely omitted.
  • Passive voice: e.g. “Bob was hit by Ned” rather than “Ned hit Bob”, the passive voice can slow down the story’s pace.

Where it gets interesting

What I like most about this app is that it isn’t telling you how to write. When text is highlighted it also tells you, for example, how many adverbs you used and what your upper limit should be.

So you can keep that one complicated sentence with its long words, adverbs and passive voice if you really love it. The app is just suggesting what the ideal middle-ground is between readability and eloquence. I feel like its aim is to make your writing enjoyable for as wide an audience as possible, without turning it into something you wouldn’t recognise as your own.

I think you should see if you like it (follow this link). I’d neither recommend nor condemn it. It’s just something you might find useful.

Let me know in the comments if any of this was useful. Do you have any writing tips to share?


My books:

38 thoughts on “Tip #4: A Useful App For Writers

  1. Thank you for sharing! Useful? Yes. Practical? Maybe. Would I use it? Probably not.

    Maybe I’m too stubborn to try it. I feel like my passion for words would be extinguished with this app. I love all kinds of words. Mostly I love how they sound when strung together in a particular way. I guess I have a “voice” that requires all of my words. That’s just me. 🙂

    Here’s a writing tip: If you get stuck in your character writing, try doing a couple of stream of consciousness writings where you take your character and put them in a different time or place. Who, or what, do they encounter? How do they interact or react? How do they feel about where they are? You might come up with some material that can be used in the piece you’re working on.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That’s a really good tip for developing a well-rounded character! It sounds like a great way to create characters who exist outside of the main narrative, getting to know the person you’ve created. Thanks!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Awesome app I use all the time. It has some bugs, doesn’t like more than 600 words before it spazzes (on the freebie version). The sentences are word limited 11-18, as per the namesake’s author’s preferred prose of style.

    I’m sold on this app. It’s as a useful tool allowing you to view your work in a different format on a line by line edit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a fun app, and I think it could be very useful… However, take it with a grain of salt. I pasted in some text from “The Great Gatsby,” and it got a ranking of “Grade 14 – OK”

    Okay? OKAY??? Come on, Hemingway, this is THE GREAT GATSBY we’re talking about.

    Liked by 1 person

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