Adverbs Like White Elephants

By: Matt Foss on August 27th, 2014

My favorite author is Ernest Hemingway. Obscure choice, right? Regardless of his popularity, I appreciate his direct, honest prose. From the expatriate culture of The Sun Also Rises, to the battle between man and marlin (and a few sharks) in The Old Man and the Sea, few people influenced literature more.


Although the stories are great, it is the concise writing I admire most. A perfect example is A Farewell to Arms. The conclusion could fill an entire book, sending readers into therapy for life, but he manages to capture it in five pages.Screen-Shot-2014-07-23-at-15.24.46

At the Woodson Art Museum, we also like to get to the point. We pride on writing as efficiently as possible. No surprise, we expressed interest in software called “Hemingway Editor.” It eliminates all unnecessary verbiage, especially those pesky subordinating conjunctions. The software helps convey the message and get down to business. This is important in grant applications and other Museum publications. We don’t want to bore or confuse readers. Our goal is to be clear, informative, and engaging – not superfluous.






While this style is effective, maybe we should consider spicing things up, channeling another author’s style to entice new audiences…

What if there was a “Kerouac Editor?”  Our grant writing could be spontaneous, filled with the rhythms of jazz and poetry. What if there was a “Michael Perry Editor” for local audiences? Our work would be rife with small town occurrences and peppered with the word “jeepers.” What if we are feeling frisky? Is there a “D.H. Lawrence Editor” or “E.L. James Editor,” so words like “heaving” and “rippling” could be throughout?

I know after reading this you may think I am off my rocker. Don’t worry.

“There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.”




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