Tech Gurus: Hemingway & Ludwig

How to Write Like Hemingway

Do you want to write a tight copy in English and make sure your readers won’t have the feeling you wasted their time? You can start by googling “tight copy” and you’ll find many suggestions and listicles of dos and don’ts. Some might come from perfect strangers, others from writers like George Orwell.

All nice and well, but how do make sure you are really writing tigh copy? Enter the Hemingway app, a tiny application (and not too expensive: $19.99) to make your writing more incisive.

The writer Ernest Hemingway was not only known for his adventurous life and great novels, but also for his simple, direct, unadorned prose. “Inspired” by the journalistic style of the American writer, the Hemingway app will tell you when to delete complex words or phrases, split long winding sentences and get rid of the passive voice.

You’ll be able to avoid mistakes like adjectives piled on top of one another, adverbs tripping over each other, colons clogging the flow of paragraphs, and a plethora of semicolons that make the readers pull their hair in desperation.

  • adjectives piled on top of one another
  • adverbs tripping over each other
  • colons clogging the flow of a paragraph
  • a plethora of semicolons that make the readers pull their hair in desperation.

You’ll have at your disposal all the functionalities of a basic word processor (open, save, print, import from Word, export in a Word file or in Markdown format for HTML conversion) and the main formatting options.

Unfortunately, it will be up to you to come up with creative solutions to your stylistic problems. But that is part of the fun, right?

Ludwig: An Example of Italian Ingenuity

Writing in English when you’re not a native speaker can prove difficult. There’s bound to be a Grammar Nazi somewhere ready to point out even your smallest mistake. And if you’re Italian, the commonplace is that you suck at English. If you think this is your case, Ludwig is the ideal resource to check your sentences and vocabulary.

Ludwig (the name is, of course, a tribute to Ludwig Wittgenstein) is a linguistic search engine, based on a database of millions of English sentences. You can access it through a simple interface: Type a sentence in English and the search engine will retrieve examples and contexts from reliable sources (BBC, Wikipedia etc.) in which your sentence is used. Simple, fast and efficient. You can also use it to translate from one language to another. Type a sentence in your language and Ludwig will give you an English translation (with help from Google Translate) and contextualized examples.

 

As shown above, there is also an interactive dictionary: Simply double-click on a word in the results and you’ll get extra lexical information. I tried Ludwig in Dutch and in Italian, and in both cases the results were satisfactory. How about testing this great example of Italian ingenuity with your own language?