How I Keep Action Active and Suspense Suspenseful – Using Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory”


“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

– Ernest Hemingway

Those who have followed my blog for some time know I idolize Papa Hemingway.  That picture is his writing desk, preserved in his house.  Someday, I will visit that house and tour it.

I try to emulate “Iceberg Theory” in my own writing, with my own stylistic choices.  Iceberg Theory, or, as English Majors like to call it, “The Theory of Omission”, came from Hemingway’s time as a journalist.  Hemingway started his writing career as a newspaper reporter with no formal education or experience as a journalist or writer.  His first editors impressed upon him the idea of reporting only the facts and avoiding editorializing the story.  Because of size constraints, it was encouraged to only report the relevant facts and avoid the background information.  Hemingway grew to respect this style of writing and believed it was “real”.  He adapted it for use in his short stories and novels.  He believed you could omit anything from a story and it would only strengthen the story in the mind of the reader – leaving the reader to read between the lines to fill in the blanks.

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NaNoWriMo Completed!

NaNoWriMo2012Due to family issues I figured out I only actually wrote 16 days this month – so I am pretty pleased with the result.  The official “winner” manuscript generated 50,639 words – a modest average of 3,165 per day for the 16 days that I did write.  Mind you, the novel itself isn’t done.  I figure I have another 10-15,000 words to get it to complete status and then a hell of a rewrite to get the style and voice that I really want for it cemented it.  So, don’t expect to be reading “The Shifting Sands” any time soon – months from now, maybe.

In the meantime, of course, you can still read “Firedancer” which, in celebration of the completion of NaNoWriMo, will be free on Kindle over the weekend.

Still, I’m quite pleased with what I wrote.  This story is a very honest story, brutally honest in that there is way more of me in this than anything I have ever written.  It will be interesting to put it out for the world to read.

(Mature Language/Content) More NaNoWriMo Updates (and some Firedancer Stuff)

Well, as the clock fell backwards one hour I hit 11,055 words – words that I am happy with and not just pounding out for count – which means I am over 20% done and only 12% into the time allotted.

Sales for “Firedancer” have been moving along as well – not as great as I want, of course – because I’ve yet to be featured in magazines the world over – but doing nicely.  Of course you can get it by clicking the “Firedancer” link on the left side – in Kindle or Paperback.

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Brief Update on NaNoWriMo And A Sample (WARNING: Mature Material)

At the end of Day 2 of NaNoWriMo I had clocked in 6,143 words – unedited.  Using my “Hemingway Rule of Thumb” I will be dropping an average of 1 word for every 10 there before it is all said and done.

The project is titled “The Shifting Sands” (temporary title) and it is a fictional story based on my first Iraq tour.  Much of what happens in the tale either happened to me or my friends, but all of the characters are fictional or amalgamations of friends and family.

With that in mind here is an except: WARNING: Language and situations are adult:

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NaNoWriMo? Hell, why not?

It is 53 minutes before the official start of NaNoWriMo for me – the National Novel Writing Month – where, across the world, hundreds of thousands of writers challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word novel in under 30 days.  And up until 53 minutes before the start of it I wasn’t interested in participating.  Now, with no preparation, I am going to do it.

For me this isn’t a difficult challenge due to my writing speed – 1,666 words per day is low on my scale.  The difficultly would be making it a final draft in that time – with no preparatory material.

So that is what I am doing – a “Papa Hemingway” realist challenge no less – I am going to write 50,000 words of a fictional story of an Iraqi War Vet – the events will be based on my experiences and my friends’ experiences but nothing is planned out.  I’m going to test my ability to write “Iceberg Theory” and my ability to follow Hemingway’s famous axiom: “All good writers are the best liars.”

NaNoWriMo, let us do this.