I discovered Ernest Hemingway a few years ago. That was mainly thanks to my study of ‘copywriting’ and trying to write well for web visitors to my various websites/blogs. The advice was straightforward, and easy to follow provided you followed some simple rules.
The rules focused on using short words, short sentences, short paragraphs and making it as easy as possible for the greatest number of people to read my blog posts. That’s where Hemingway came in because he was held up as the leading proponent of such vigorous, muscular, frills free writing. If you were in any doubt you only had to read his novella, ‘The Old Man and the Sea’.
Then I discovered Charles Dickens. It took a while to wade through the first Dickens book I read, ‘Bleak House’, but I soon appreciated Dickens’s genius. This genius was, in my view, founded on his stories, his storytelling, and the unforgettable, vivid characters he created in his books.
When I think then about the difference between Hemingway and Dickens, I struggle to reconcile the chasms of difference between the two styles. Sometimes I resent having to ‘dumb down’ and write in a way that makes what I write easy to read, understand, and scan. Sometimes I would like to write a blog post in the Dickens style of writing.
I doubt, however, that the piece would be read. The attention span of web surfers is short and getting shorter and you had better make your stuff easy to consume or you will not be read.
And the main purpose of writing is to get read, at least by the people for whom you are writing and catering.
One thing I can say with confidence: writing in the ‘Hemingway’ style has the most profound effect on readers. I have had people come to see me from all over the country and many of them have referred to my writing and even go so far as to quote some of my own stuff back to me.
Meanwhile, I want to improve my craft and continue learning and communicating with the greatest number of people who may have concerns with which I can help.