“Get to the point.” We’ve either said it or been told to do it. We value the clear and concise. Ernest Hemingway was a master at this direct language. He got to the essence of things with few words. Now, there is an app for that — or at least a website called the Hemingway App.
This site claims that it will make “your writing bold and clear.” It does this by highlighting four areas in your writing: hard-to-read sentences, adverbs, words or phrases that could be made simpler, and the passive voice. Each of these areas if left unchecked tends to make writing too verbose or unclear or complicated. Less is more.
Here’s how the site works: To begin, delete the text that already appears on the page, and write or paste your own text into that space. And viola! Your writing has been Hemified, as I like to say. Well, it doesn’t change your wording, but it does highlight the areas of concern: yellow and red for the complicated sentences, blue for the adverbs, green for the passive voice, and purple for the words that the writer could make simpler (and, if you hover over that word, it will give you a simpler suggestion).
I pasted the above paragraph into the site, and, of course, my last sentence was highlighted red, which is the very-hard-to-read sentence. But, sometimes I like to be more like Faulkner than Hemingway, so don’t let the site cramp your writing style.
It is a useful revision tool, though, making you take a second look at your sentences and your word choices. The passive voice highlights are especially helpful since teachers and professors alike are admonishing students to avoid the passive voice. Once again, however, consider your style because you may have chosen the passive voice for effect.
This site offers one more interesting feature: It rates the readability of your writing. It rated my second paragraph on the readability level of 10th grade, mainly because of my complicated sentence. I pasted several different versions of a paragraph into the site until I didn’t get anymore highlights, and that paragraph received a readability level of 4th grade. Then, I pasted a paragraph from one of Hemingway’s novels, and it received the same reading level. I must be getting to the point.