Most of the time I question why I’m part of so many Facebook groups. The endless postings about topics I was once interested in. But every now and then, a gem turns up. Enter stage left, Hemingway App.
Available as a desktop application ($6.99, approx. £4.50), Hemingway App’s mission statement is to ‘make your writing bold and clear.’ So far, so good. Just copy and paste your writing into the app (you can try before you buy) and the app will highlight sentences that are hard to read, very hard to read, phrases that have a simpler alternative (highlighted in purple, of course), passive voice and adverbs. You heard me, there’s an adverb counter. I’m in love.
‘But won’t this rob my writing of it’s character?’ I hear you cry. Only if you take everything as read. The app appears to have been developed with a journalistic audience in mind for which clear and accurate expression are the gold standard. However, this doesn’t render the tool useless for fiction writers.
Rather, it gives you a heads up that portions of your manuscript are more difficult to read than others, and pointers on how to change this if you wish. Perhaps you’ll find yourself reconsidering one of your darlings, or congratulating yourself that the dialogue of your verbose character is very hard to read and full of words or phrases that could be simpler. Job done.
This is an editing tool to bring a fresh perspective to your work, not the Holy Grail of style. Because in the words of Stephen King from his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, “To write is human, to edit is divine.”