Friday, June 7, 2013

Seven Tips from Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction

1: To get started, write one true sentence.

2: Always stop for the day while you still know what will happen next.

3: Never think about the story when you’re not working.

4: When it’s time to work again, always start by reading what you’ve written so far.

5: Don’t describe an emotion–make it.

6: Use a pencil.

7: Be Brief.

Article Source: Open Culture


  1. You know I've read so many many many writerly blogs who expound how they live and breath their stories even when they are not writing them and I'd be feeling totally inadequate because I seriously don't with mine so thank heavens for no.3! LOL!

    Use a pencil!! I love that too! A pencil!??!

    Take care

  2. YAY! Double-whammy -Ernest Hemmingway and a new post! Result!

    Not sure about the pencil bit though? I also agree about feeling the emotion rather than just writing it, most likely why I tend to have a good sob whilst writing certain scenes.


  3. Hi Jennifer,
    Nice to see you around here! ;)
    I know, pencil? I used to handwrite my drafts a long time ago, not anymore.

    Hi Mark,
    Thank you for stopping by. Truth be told, I think each writer has his/her own method. I think what works for one may not work for another but it's always nice to compare tips ;)

  4. Hemingway is one of my writing heroes...a pure genius :-)
    I hope you're having a wonderful day.

    1. Hi OE,
      Yes, Ernest is one of my favorite writers as well. I love his simplicity. ;)
      Thanks for sharing your comment.

  5. Interesting! I think I'd go along with all of them apart from #3. When I'm, not sitting and typing is when I come up with most of my ideas. Oh, and the pencil thing. I don't do that very often!

    1. Hi Simon,
      I totally agree with #3. The pencil tip, well, that was back in the day. I guess he meant it was easier to erase mistakes/add/delete, etc. However, we still need to have a pen/pencil handy in case we need to jot down an idea for our next story ;)

  6. I hope you have a good weekend and I look forward to your next post!!

    1. Thank you! :)
      I wish you a good weekend as well.
      P.S. These past weeks have been hectic so I am not posting assiduously :( instead, I'm posting whenever I find a chance.

  7. Can't be doing with a pencil but I love no. 3 too. The true sentence made me giggle thinking of that owen wilson film Midnight in Paris where he meets Hemingway

  8. Hi Mike,
    RE: pencil, see what I replied to Simon?
    I saw "Midnight in Paris" but I don't really recall what Owen Wilson said to Hemingway. :(

  9. I the most useful tips for me are n.2,3,4 and 7.
    I think these are the most useful for me because he gives practical tips about the writing process. It would be great to be able to make an emotion, of course, but I also need to understand how! And when he says to write a true sentence, I need to understand what an untrue sentence is... I think I think too much... I'm pretty sure Hemingway would say that a true sentence is simply a true sentence! Why should I even think about it? And you simply make an emotion by making an emotion! You know how to make a cake? Well, same thing. And if you still can't, then join a frontline and shoot...

  10. I don't know about the pencil. It gets so smudgy and you have to keep sharpening it. But Steinbeck wrote with pencil, too. I think it's a case of "those were the days". I wouldn't trade cut and paste on my computer for a pencil. But I loved # 5.

  11. I love Ernest Hemingway. He was a brilliant writer and these tips could possibly help. He is right though every single one of these helpful hints are correct.

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  12. Awesome advice! So glad I read this today.