Crash Course in Ernest Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory

Hello Writer Bees!

Currently, I’m cleaning out my space and getting rid of all my worldly, and worthless, possessions. So, in the spirit of removing unncesary things, let’s talk about the king of minimalism himself: Ernest Hemingway.

Breaking News!

For all the history buffs, this one’s for you. Before he became a famous author, Ernest Hemingway was a journalist for the Toronto Star. In the start of his career as a writer, he wrote reports on current events that featured little context and interpretation. This way of writing transferred into his fiction writing and shaped his signature style we know today.

What is the Iceburg Theory?

In short, the Iceberg Theory is a writing technique coined by Ernest Hemingway. In the words of Hemmingway himself, It’s “declarative sentences and direct representations of the visible world“. This style is about burying themes and meanings underneath the surface of a story. Let the readers uncover those treasures for themselves.

Tips on Minimalist Writing

  • Edit smart. Remove excess fat of exposition.
  • Let dialogue and physical cues speak for themselves.
  • Cover up symbols and themes under short, distant sentences.

Want to see Hemingway’s minimalist style in action? Check out some of his most notable works.


Hope you guys learned more about Hemingway and his unique writing style. Perhaps the Iceberg theory will creep into your own writing, just a little bit.

Enjoy the rest of the week everyone!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

10 Comments

  1. Pingback: In Charge (Short Story + Self Critique) – Lady Jabberwocky

  2. John Dyer says:

    I followed the last link to his essay, “The Art of the Short Story”, wherein Hemingway expounds on the iceberg principle by saying, “If you leave out important things or events that you know about, the story is strengthened”. I’ve been doing that a lot, but apparently my first readers aren’t hip to it, because they sometimes complain. No matter; I’m validated, and I’m taking it to heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. singram1028 says:

    I wrote a story to a prompt once that suggested ‘Write a story using only dialog.’ My mind went immediately to Hemingway and Hills Like White Elephants.

    This was my story. (And no I’m not comparing myself to him, though that is the goal.)

    The White Elephant

    Liked by 1 person

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