Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hemingway's List for Young Writers

I didn't make a list of resolutions for 2014.  Less disappointment when I don't follow through.  Although, I would like to, and will make a concerted effort, to lose weight this year - which may result in my sleep apnea going away.  I would just like to feel better.  Mrs. BA and I are also trying to save more (any?) money this year - so we have started on the 52-week savings challenge.  You can see more about it here.

For several years, I have played with a manuscript that I have started, edited, stepped away, come back to, all with the hopes that someday I might get it published.  Maybe 2014 is the year for that too.  So while, I no longer could be considered young, here's a list of books recommended by Ernest Hemingway in 1934.  Think these are available for the Kindle?
  • “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane
  • “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Dubliners by James Joyce 
  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal 
  • Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham 
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 
  • Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann 
  • Hail and Farewell by George Moore 
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
  • The Oxford Book of English Verse 
  • The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings 
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 
  • Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson 
  • The American by Henry James 
To help me with the book, I may also follow Hemingway's advice on "How to Write Fiction."  Also, I would probably benefit from Elmore Leonard's advice on "10 Rules on Writing:"
  1. Never open a book with weather - "If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people."
  2. Avoid prologues - "They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword."
  3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue - "The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied."
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” - ". . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange."
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control - "You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose."
  6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose” - "This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use ”suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points."
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly - "Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop."
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters - "In Ernest Hemingway’s ”Hills Like White Elephants” what do the ”American and the girl with him” look like? ”She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight."
  9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things - "Even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill."
  10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip - "Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them… I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue."

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