Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hemingway's Star treatment
A guest post by DIMITRI CAVALLI

Ernest Hemingway thought the Kansas City Star Style Guide was the best manual for writing he ever used. After years of looking, I finally found it on the Internet. Here are my favorite entries:

1) "The police tried to find her husband," not tried to locate her husband. To locate, used as a transitive verb, means to establish.

2) Avoid the use of adjectives, especially such extravagant ones as splendid, gorgeous, grand, magnificent, etc.

3) Say, "She was born in Ireland and came to Jackson County in 1874: not "but came to Jackson County." She didn't come here to make amends for being born in Ireland. This is common abuse of the conjunction.

4) "He threw the stone," not "He threw the rock." Rock is unquarried stone.

5) "He suffered a broken leg in a fall," not "he broke his leg in a fall." He didn't break the leg, the fall did.

6) Such words as "tots," "urchins," "mites of humanity" are not to be used in writing of children. In certain cases, where "kids" conveys just the proper shading and fits the story, it is permissible.

7) Watch out for trite phrases such as "burly negro," "crisp bank note," "cold cash," "hard cash," etc.

8) He died of heart disease, not heart failure--everybody dies of heart failure.

9) Resolutions are adopted, not passed. Bills are passed and laws are enacted. The house or senate passed a bill; congress or the legislature enacted a law.

10) The Star does not use "dope" or "dope fiend." Use habit forming drugs or narcotics or addicts.

11) A Woman of the Name of Mary Jones--Disrespect is attached to the individual in such sentences. Avoid it. Never use it even in referring to street walkers.