Hemingway’s Brush Strokes

  NCWA welcomes Joe Bunting from The Write Practice in a series of writing prompts.

 This post contains excerpts from Joe’s e-book. See links following post to obtain the complete version.


When my English Literature professor, Marilyn McEntyre, told us Hemingway would write all day in small Parisian cafes, and afterward take his lunch to the Musée du Luxembourg where he would look at the paintings by Cézanne, it transformed how I looked at authors—and writing, for that matter—forever.

Our eyes are the most important tools we have. Our eyes tell us what’s important to write and what to leave out. Hemingway’s example gives us a new way to transform the lenses with which we view the world. What if you studied an artist, molding your lenses around hers, and then practiced seeing like she sees, writing like she would write? How would this change your writing?

The Prompt
Find a painting by an artist you admire, and study it for several minutes. What is unique about his style? What emotions does the painting evoke? Who are the characters (paint, light, and architecture count as characters), and how are they portrayed? Are the scenes incredibly detailed, like Dickens or Hugo, or are they spare and modern, like Hemingway? Are they surreal, like Vonnegut? How does the painter see the world? You may want to verbalize the answers to some of these questions in writing.

Next, try to imitate the painting with your writing by describing the scene around you as that artist would. If you want, maybe even go outside with your laptop or pen and paper. It might give your writing a unique edge like no one else’s.


Excerpts and writing prompt from Joe Bunting’s e-book,

14 Prompts, available by clicking on the link.


Joe Bunting is the founder of  The Write Practice. He loves the sound of a good sentence and would like to think of himself as a literary snob but can be kept up far too late by a page turner meant for thirteen year old girls. He would like for you not to know that though. He and his wife, Talia, enjoy playing backgammon and Angry Birds on her iPhone. View his website.


One thought on “Hemingway’s Brush Strokes

  1. Pingback: This Week’s Top 10 Poetic Picks

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