So you can read my books

Friday, April 12, 2013

O is for ONE as in ONE TRUE WORD

"All you have to do is write one true sentence.

Write the truest sentence you know."- Ernest Hemingway

But how to do that?

Hemingway always worked until he had something done, and he always stopped when he knew what was going to happen next.

That way he could be sure of going on the next day.

But how to write that true sentence?

A "true" sentence, according to Frank Barone:

shows instead of tells
uses sense words
uses active verbs
does not use the following forms of the verb "to be": is; are; was; were; has, have, had been.

But, of course, there is more :

"How little we know of what there is to know. I wish that I were going to live a long time instead of going to die today because I have learned much about life in these four days; more, I think than in all other time.

I'd like to be an old man to really know. I wonder if you keep on learning or if there is only a certain amount each man can understand. I thought I knew so many things that I know nothing of. I wish there was more time."

— Ernest Hemingway (For Whom the Bell Tolls)

More time.

But that is just it. None of us know how much time we have. How best to use what little we have.

What do we know? Is it true?

How do we know for sure?

Evocative prose is no one's mother tongue. It has to be won through the trials of life and pen. And that takes the most precious of commodities: time.

Steve Job,

who birthed APPLE and whose passing we still mourn, said this:

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.

Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice.

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Live your dream with everything you have.

Submit that novel without fear. If it is rejected, you are no worse off than before. You have grown through the experience.

Friends write me worried that agents or editors will steal their ideas.

A great writer does not have to worry, for he writes in a manner that no one can imitate. Take the plot, yes. But not the manner in which it unfolds.

Because his sentences are true sentences. They reflect his truth, his hopes, his dreams, his fears.

And so the story is HIS in a way no other could write it.

If you had to write the truest sentence you know, what would it be?**


  1. As always a wonderful post. Anyway, I always end each chapter I write with a note of what I want to happen next.

    Tweeted and shared.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  2. Thanks, Shelly!

    I've missed you here. :-)

    Your idea is much like Hemingway's. He sends a wink your way. The old scoundrel was always a ladies' man!

  3. Inspiring post, Roland! I adore Calvin and Hobbs--thank you for sharing that. Who knew Dick and Jane were so deep?

    My book club read The Paris Wife, a fictionalized account of Hemingway's first wife. It makes me want to read The Sun Also Rises again.

    Hey, you have 1111 followers right now. Cool!

  4. Jennifer:
    Calvin & Hobbes are always fun. And Dick and Jane have strange, deep philosophical discussions over the decades as they sit waiting between the pages of their books! :-)

    A MOVEVABLE FEAST is also a good book to read to touch base with Hemingway in his Paris days.

    Isn't that neat? Four one's. Blogger will find some way to ruin it though! LOL.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting!!

  5. Wonderfully said! the new book to King looks REALLY good!

  6. Siv!
    I've missed seeing you at my cyber-home. Love your new avatar. I started Mr. King's time travel book, but stopped as it began to feel that the character would sacrifice years and love to accomplish his goal. I'm sentimental that way. LOL.

  7. Hemingway really knows his stuff... LOL.

    Very inspirational post, Roland.

    We all need to realize that we are unique in our writing. Only WE can write our stories, no matter how talented other writers are.

  8. I love Hemmingway. Read him often when I was younger and aspired to write like he did.

  9. Scattered thoughts today given that my internet has been up and down (mostly down) over the last three days.

    As a former academic I laughed out loud at the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. There's more truth—or perhaps I should say pathos?—than humor there.

    Live your dream is another way of saying don’t give up your chance to change the world in a way that only you can. Yes!

    The prospect of "one true sentence" keeps me writing each day. It's also the title of a sublime mystery by Craig McDonald, starring a newly-minted author and Papa H.

    I thought King's 11/22/63 was awesome. It proves what a great storyteller he is to those who dismissed him out of hand as "just another horror writer."

    The truest sentence I know? I don't know. Um, I don't know *is* the truest sentence—not just a way to avoid answering the question.

  10. VR:
    Socrates would not only say "I don't know" is the truest sentence, but one that is the beginning of wisdom!

    I'll have to look up that thriller by Craig McDonald -- I seem to have luck with thrillers by McDonalds -- John D. and Ross (I know the spelling is different, but the sounds are the same!)

    King is truly a magnificent writer. All the pundits will moan his loss when he dies, though he scoff and hold him in light esteem while he is alive.

    In my tenure as a graduate student and English teacher, I know all too well about how obscure prose is often rewarded over clarity!

    I hate that your internet has been down so often these past 3 days. Again, I know all too well the irritation that can bring. We have become tied to the internet. In my dealings with having audio books made of several of my books, I would bay at the moon if my internet went down right now!! LOL.

    I hope it improves for you!!

  11. A wonderful post. Love Calvin and Hobbes. I like the idea of being true not only to ourselves, but to our stories.
    Recently read that Stephen King book - one of my favourites now!

  12. Deniz:
    I love Calvin & Hobbes, too! :-)

    Hemingway urged us to be true to our stories and thus being true to our readers.

    I hesitated finishing since I felt the hero would end up badly! I am such a softie!!

  13. Hi Roland .. you and your readers take me in directions I've never gone ... I really do need to do some reading ...

    I know little about Stephen King - so seeing he'd written about JFK's assassination 50 years ago this year ... took me by surprise - and I may well read this. I appreciate King is highly respected! As too Hemingway ... Twain and many more ..

    Cheers Hilary