How to Be the Next Hemingway: Three Editing Tools for Writers

Ernest Hemingway, the author of classics like The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea, is famous for
his terse and direct writing style. But as influential and compelling the
storyteller he was, his grammar wasn’t always on par.

When it came to present participles, Hemingway
loved to leave his e’s, as with “loveing”
and “moveing.” His excuse to editors?
“Well, that’s what you’re hired to correct!” Not that grammatical errors kept
him from becoming one of the greats, but writing as well as he did certainly
wasn’t easy:

“Writing is something that you can never do as
well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult
than anything else that I have ever done – so I do it. And it makes me happy
when I do it well,” he said.

If only Hemingway had been given access to
some of the modern online editing tools available today, he may have had an
easier time pulling together one of history’s greatest oeuvres of fiction.

Fortunately for us, free editing tools likeHemingway
Editor
, Grammarly and Headline Analyzer make it easy to not
only write with Hemingway’s concision and directness but also write with
flawless grammar and with an understanding of how well a piece will resonate
with our audience.

Hemingway Editor

Whether or not Hemingway was a fan of editors, he understood the importance of the process: “Most writers slough the most important part of their trade – editing their stuff.”

We don’t all have an actual editor or editorial team on hand to tell us if what we’re writing is as good or as easy to read as it could be–but with Hemingway Editor, you do.

Bold, Clear Writing

The core function of this editing tool is to
help you write clear and direct prose, just like Hemingway. The process for
running your writing through the tool is simple: copy and paste. You can also
write directly within Hemingway Editor. Either way, the editing tool will
immediately flag the things that make your writing un-Hemingway:

  • Too many adverbs that soften your
    writing
  • Use of passive voice instead of
    active
  • Complex phrases with simpler
    alternatives
  • Varying degrees of hard-to-read
    sentence

The editing tool also tells you the
readability level of your writing in terms of grade level, as well as details
like reading time and the number of words, sentences, paragraphs, etc. You can
access all of this for free online, or purchase the desktop app that allows you
to use Hemingway Editor anywhere without internet connection.

I dropped the original intro of this article
into the web app, and this is what Hemingway Editor came back with to help me
make a few minor changes:

No one is expecting you to spend hours upon
hours editing sentences to near perfection like Hemingway would, but with this
namesake editing tool, you’ll be able to make quick improvements that help you
hone your messages with little effort.

Grammarly

While Hemingway Editor does spot grammatical errors, most of its power comes through in helping you maintain an easy-to-read style. For advanced checking for grammatical errors, you want Grammarly in your editing toolkit. You can access it through a Chrome extension or just by visiting Grammarly.com.

Set Goals

Whether you’re writing directly within
Grammarly or copying and pasting text in, you’ll start by setting some goals so
the editing tool understands the context of your message before suggesting
anything is wrong with it.

The level of customization is impressive. You
can tell Grammarly your intent for the piece of writing, who the audience is
that you’re writing for, what kind of style you’re using and the emotion you’re
leveraging overall throughout the piece.

Based on this, Grammarly makes accurate
suggestions that help you make worthy improvements to your text. You can change
these goals at any time, such as when you start a new project.

Grammar Check

This is why you use Grammarly. Immediately
upon typing or pasting your text into the editing tool, it will indicate
misspellings and other grammatical errors, such as where a comma is missing or
shouldn’t be.

Not only that, but Grammarly will feed you
corrective options when it makes sense, helping you preserve some flexibility
and control as the writer. It will also give you an explanation for why it’s
suggesting you change something.

Check Performance

When you’re done making edits in Grammarly,
you can check your performance to get a sense of how good your writing is
compared to other text Grammarly has checked within the same bounds of the
goals you previously set.

You get an overall percentage ranking, but you can also delve into important details like reading time and speaking time as well as stats similar to Hemingway Editor, like characters, words and sentences.

Lastly, you get a view into readability, including a score that aligns well with Hemingway Editor’s, indicating both editing tools are leveraging advanced technology to give you accurate results based on real data.

Headline Analyzer

The late and great ad-man David Ogilvy said,
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body
copy. When you’ve written your headline, you’ve spent 80 cents out of your
dollar.”

That’s why Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule is essential to helping you write great, SEO-friendly headlines; that is, headlines that align with best practices for great search engine optimization to drive traffic to your posts and increase the likelihood of it being shared.

The core function of Headline Analyzer is to score your headline and give you a sense of how well it will perform, thereby making it more likely people will read the rest of the piece.

As you can see, my first headline for this article wasn’t so great. While it may have been good enough, Headline Analyzer offered a few tips to help me improve it.

With a few small changes, I improved my score
by several points and now feel more comfortable with how I can expect it to
perform.

As you adjust your headline based on the
score, Headline Analyzer will list each option you’ve created with its score.
This gives you an easy way to compare your headline variations and ultimately
choose the one with the highest score. This editing tool will also tell you
whether your headline:

  • Is too short or too long
  • Explains the purpose of your piece
    well
  • Conveys positive or negative
    sentiments
  • Uses relevant keywords

Preview Google Search and Email

Writing a great headline isn’t just about
stringing together the right words. How your headline appears in different
contexts matters just as much–a large, H1 headline on a blog page could appear
more or less compelling than on a Google search page or in an email. Headline
Analyzer does a great job showing you how your headline will appear in these
different settings.

As you can see, my first headline gets cut off in Google. My new headline fairs better. Of course, if you know how, you can just update the metadata for, say, a blog post that’s going to appear in a Google search and reword the headline to meet Google’s ideal length.

But if you want an optimized headline across the board, Headline Analyzer is a great editing tool to help you determine what changes to make.

Writing is tough, especially when we’re doing it in a world where people want quality information quick in a format that requires little effort on their part to understand the message.

You might get pretty good at this after you’ve been doing it for a while, but if you want some guidance and a path to improving your decision-making throughout the writing process, these three editing tools can do wonders for you.