Monday, June 27, 2011

Ernest Hemingway on rewriting

During a 1958 interview by the Paris Review, Ernest Hemingway (pictured) made a now-famous comment about rewriting:

Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?

Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.

Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?

Hemingway: Getting the words right.

In the same spirit, E. B. White wrote: You discover what you really think by hacking away at your first spontaneous utterance.”

The Takeaway: Good writing, if it occurs at all, occurs during the rewrites.

See disclaimer.

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