Structure Sunday: Beneath the surface

iceberg hemingway writing prompt photo by christopher michel via flickr


Ernest Hemingway believed the “quality of a piece could be judged by the quality of the material the author eliminated.” His theory of omission, also called “the iceberg theory,” emphasizes that the core of a good story lies beneath the surface, like the mass of an iceberg.


Revise a story, poem or essay by taking a cue from Hemmy and play with subtlety. Use implications to suggest a deeper problem or mystery within the narrative. What explanations or elements can you remove while still maintaining the heart of the piece?


For more inspiration, visit our database of writing prompts.