Hemingway App

There’s a new app for Mac and Windows called Hemingway, which is a grammar checker. Has anyone used it with Scrivener?

If you Search the forum for ‘Hemingway’, you will find some threads about that.

I checked it out years ago. Probably about 4 years ago, and found it very minimal and not very useful. It is not a robust program like Antidote or other full fledged style checkers. Perhaps its changed.

It works fairly well for flagging adverbs, but then it bases how many adverbs you should be having on a general word count, and how many adverbs you have or should use differs depending on the genre, whether the scene is full scene or a summary, what the content is, and how much dialogue is in the scene. And of course it doesn’t look at syntax or at more than one word at a time, as if it were looking at the text through a toilet paper roll.

I once had a character named ‘Lieutenant Stokely’. Hemingway decided that ‘Stokely’ was an adverb! Meaning its algorithm might have been so simple that all it did was look for words that end in LY. Not to mention that adverbs in the middle of a sentence are never capitalized. But it wasn’t even that smart.

Scrivener has a built-in adverb counter, and you likely won’t be surprised that it comes up with a different total than Hemingway for the exact same text. Hemingway is of course a separate application, meaning to use it you have to copy and paste.

It’s very good at flagging passive verbs. That’s about all I use it for. It’s so-so at flagging complex words and suggesting simpler alternatives. And it’s pretty useless at pointing out sentences which are ‘difficult to read’ and ‘very difficult to read’. What it labels ‘difficult to read’ could probably be easily read by anyone with an IQ of 50.

It’s a useless gimmicky app.

I bought it, refunded it in a day (the desktop version is same as site version BTW, with zero updates or UI changes for Windows).

I feel like, if you enjoy pointlessly obsessing over everything “wrong” you did, it’s a perfect tool to increase your blood pressure and end up in the hospital. Most of the fixes it suggests are just suggestions, but I suspect people will just “fix” everything it asks them to fix anyway.

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Ah. Thank you for validating my perplexity at the Hard and Very Hard sentence assessments in Hemingway :slight_smile:

Also, it doesn’t know there are different kinds of adverbs and that adverbs in speech and outside it should be considered differently. (That said, I looked for the Scrivener (Windows) Adverb counter and couldn’t find it; that’s the about the only thing I really attend to in Hemingway now.)

I was going to start a whole new thread about useful tools but, after digging around various other threads before ending up here, I have now concluded I would be wasting my, and everyone else’s, time: I think most of us need basic tools to catch lapses in attention and that none of the tools I have seen can be said to be anything more than basic; c’est la vie!

Hemingway would not doubt consider the penultimate sentence incomprehensible.

If it does, then it is even dumber than I thought. Maybe even dumber than I am! BC I find that sentence clear as a bell.

The words I’ve been trying to live by for some time now are ‘there are no shortcuts’. I firmly believe that. But there are tools (and even some tools who consider tools to actually be shortcuts :clown_face:).

Hemingway is a legit tool, yet often not a sharp one. Or an effective one. I think the trick is to not try to use it as a shortcut, the same way a carpenter does not use a coping saw as a shortcut. Maybe just use it as a tool. When it helps, it helps, and when it doesn’t it doesn’t, and when it tries to fool you into thinking it’s a shortcut, it fails epically.

What this implies, of course, is that every choice of adverb (or choice to use a strong verb instead of slapping on an adverb) must be a singular individual artistic judgment call. A one-off. There is no tool that can do that thinking and judging and choosing for you, and ‘word count’ is a piss-poor way to determine what adverbs or how many of them should be in your manuscript, especially since ‘how many’ will vary by type of scene and by individual sentence structure. All Hemingway knows how to do is count, and it often gets that wrong.

We must think about it every single time and make the choice based on what we determine is the best option. Hemingway does not have the wherewithal to do that. I can’t imagine that AI ever will, either.

Yay for human intelligence. But, since the throwaway remark got picked up, this what it actually thinks of that sentence.


What is just plain irksome is that, whilst I don’t (unreasonably) expect perfection or even superlative performance from any of these tools, it’s frustrating that there is no single tool that is good enough all round.

I think it will; but only once it has learned to read. :wink:

Haha, brilliant! Tells you everything you need to know about whether you should be trusting this app to give you language advice!

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Yes. Now I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out how to remove adverbs that don’t exist.

I want to get that down to ‘You have minus 10 adverbs—that’s good, bc now you have fewer than zero adverbs’.

Hemingway is likely spinning in his grave.