Hemingway App Punches Up Your Writing

We asked Adam Long if there wasn't more than a little irony in the app's faulting Hemingway's writing for not being up to Hemingway standards.

Hemingway artifacts from Cuba at JFK Library

Long says Hemingway displayed much more stylistic variety than is popularly believed (dagnabbit! We used the passive voice).

True, Papa wrote short sentences. But, says Long, he wrote a lot of long ones, too. "The Old Man and the Sea" has plenty of them, he says. Hemingway varied punchy with paunchy for rhythm. He deliberately departed from the standard rules of English, says Long, because, as an artist and as a master of language, he knew how to get the effects he wanted.

"If you know what you're doing," says Long, "there isn't any law you cannot break intentionally." (We were amazed to find the app gave this rather rococo sentence a grade of 8, faulting it only for the use of an adverb.) Long says the rules built into the algorithm are meant as guideposts, not as laws. "We don't prescribe a pedantic adherence to them." (Grade of 7.)

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