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Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

Ernest Hemingway at 100

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Star style and rules for writing


Date: 06/26/99 22:15

Below are excerpts from The Kansas City Star stylebook that Ernest Hemingway once credited with containing "the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing."

  • Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative.

  • Never use old slang.

  • Eliminate every superfluous word.

  • Be careful of the word also. It usually modifies the word it follows closest. "He, also, went" means "He, too, went." "He went also" means he went in addition to taking some other action.

  • Be careful of the word "only." "He only had $10" means he alone was the possessor of such wealth; "He had only $10," means the ten was all the cash he possessed.

  • In writing of animals, use the neuter gender except when you are writing of a pet that has a name.

  • Try to preserve the atmosphere of the speech in your quotation. For instance, in quoting a child, do not let him say "Inadvertently, I picked up the stone and threw it."

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