Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory” of Writing

Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory” of Writing…profoundly interesting to me, and I’m sure, to all those of us who read and write with passion…I personally write what I know…whether through direct experience or via intuition…

101 Books

If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing. –Ernest Hemingway

Before I wrap up The Sun Also Rises (review coming tomorrow), I thought I’d take one more look at Hemingway’s writing style.

He called it the “Iceberg Theory,” and  it’s a great descriptor of his style.

Essentially, he gives you the facts—those hard facts are the tip of the iceberg floating above water. Everything else—the supporting structure—floats beneath the water, out of sight from the reader.

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2 thoughts on “Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory” of Writing

  1. Hi Mira… I can only speak for myself as I have limited expertise as a writer still ‘getting my feet wet’. When I get involved in editing a piece, I find redundancies, and places where I have been too verbose, but, that’s just me… I can tend to over-describe and explain things. In sticking to the facts, Hemmingway has almost a mystical quality in his writing.

    • Writing is a personal journey…in the end, if you are authentic and have something you REALLY want to express (i should speak for myself here), people seem to love it. Simple really. Love!

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