How can we become more effective writers by telling less to show more? Hemingway proposed the Iceberg Theory.
The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea are both great examples of his minimalist style. Each word is chosen to be easily understandable. Each sentence is short and to-the-point. Adjectives and adverbs are sparse. The tone is almost cold, but it doesn’t fail to trigger deep emotions. The reader’s imagination fills the narrative voids.
Hemingway’s prose has never been more relevant. If you’re paid to write an article, you can’t waste words. If you’re trying to convince a prospect with your copywriting skills, you don’t want to yawn her to death. Clarity is of utmost importance.
The Iceberg Theory is similar to the adage ”Show, Don’t Tell”. Omitting some details can prove to be more powerful than telling everything. The writer’s work has to be suggestive to let the reader think and develop his own perspective. The hidden depth is what makes Hemingway’s stories so engaging.
Mystery is the spice of life. An artist should not be afraid to trim the fat if it reveals a bigger truth. Painting is a great analogy. A painting from Van Gogh isn’t photo-realistic, but that’s the beauty of his art: to uncover its truth, you have to imagine the hidden part of the iceberg.