Iceberg Theory Can Help You Engage Your Audience- 2 Important Points

Introduce to Iceberg theory

Have you ever wondered why some stories appeal to you more than others? I might ask myself the question about certain novels or certain literary sagas in order to try to understand, I can’t really find the answer. If some stories are more captivating than others, it is not so much thanks to their content, even very rich, but rather to the way in which they are told.

A story can involve extraordinary adventures, but if the writer cannot touch the reader’s heart, it is in vain. A story without feeling or emotion included does not grab the reader. If only the facts or events described appearing in the story, it is pointless.

In other words, descriptive accounts only show the tip of the iceberg, while emotional accounts reveal the submerged side of the iceberg, which gives them great depth. A soul!

The writer behind the iceberg theory

Ernest Hemingway is one of the great representatives of realism in American literature of the twentieth century. It is by exercising the profession of journalist, in which excess words and overly long sentences are banned, that he has refined his literary art.

Ernest Hemingway

The author of “Old Man and the Sea” theorized this form of writing under the name of the iceberg theory. How to create a Wikipedia page about yourself, In fact, the writer must focus on the elements visible on the surface, without the underlying themes ever being explained. The important thing is not explicit, but implicit!

In “Paris Est one fête”, Ernest Hemingway describes the technique that gives him this direct, incisive style, in which each word weighs with all its weight.
Thus, true to his principles, the American author avoids repeated adverbs, adjectives chained to each other, lyrical and sonorous flights. What he writes is true. It’s him! The reader must find this truth while reading the account.

In 1951, Ernest Hemingway mastered his art perfectly and demonstrated it in his 250-page novel, “Beyond the river and under the trees”. His prose is precise, constantly controlled, refined like a Cistercian abbey.

In this novel, he chose an environment he knows well: that of the fishermen of Cuba. The plot is very simple. The fishing scenes are therefore described with remarkable realism and precision. Every gesture is painted. No object is too much on the boat. There is not a word too many in this prose, no grandiloquence or lyricism. The reader only encounters the factual description of actions and sensations.

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The images induced in the reader's mind by this sober account is just as effective, if not more, than the analyzes to which the writer could lend himself. The right word has always been Hemingway's obsessive goal.

This pure realism does not alter the beauty of the style and does not make the story cold and distant. In reading, the reader sees only the tip of the iceberg. The attentive and conquered reader can then see the submerged part of the iceberg. It is the supreme gift!

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The iceberg theory

You will understand, the theory of the iceberg is therefore a sober style of writing, inspired by journalism. Keep sentences short. Make short introductions. Use a vigorous tongue. Be affirmative and not negative. Here are the injunctions that Ernest Hemingway received from his editor when he began his career as a journalist. This theory of the iceberg is also sometimes called the theory of omission. It is a minimalist style. Little context needs to be inserted into a story.

It is important to leave room for interpretation. It is necessary to sharpen the language, to avoid all the
rejections of style. The story is strengthened if you don’t tell it all. The reader is not an assisted person. While reading, he must provide a fair amount of work, through imagination and mental visualization.

In a story, the writer has every interest in not revealing everything and leaving important things in suspense. The reader must do their part of the job. It is in this that he can then embark on a novel and stay hooked for a few hundred pages.

The author should know the important things, but not formulate them directly. For Hemingway, only the tip of the iceberg is to be shown to the reader. The latter will see what is above the water. But, the writer must have knowledge about his characters, without revealing everything. This will give weight to its story.

By rendering the structure of the story invisible, the writer reinforces his fiction, using declarative sentences, simple and clear language, representing the world directly through concrete images.

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Ernest Hemingway, to make his stories more alive and more authentic, used elements of his own life, as well as his experiences, painful or happier. According to the American author, to strengthen the drama and achieve a strong drama, one must minimize or omit the feelings that produced the fiction.

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In short, you have to write in such a way that the essence of the subject remains understood! Compress and omit details: this is one of the keys to writing success. It is in this way that an author can interest a reader and thus offer him the possibility of new in-depth readings of the text. This theory of the iceberg breaks with the literary tradition, especially that of the nineteenth century. There is nevertheless a certain similarity with the naturalist writers of the end of the 19th century, such as Emile Zola.

Emile Zola

The objective of naturalist writers has been and is to describe reality by accumulating concrete, external details, leaving it to the reader to infer the emotions of the characters and to react to these stimuli himself. But, by accumulating details, naturalists have come to create static works, in which the reader can get bored and drown. For Ernest Hemingway, every action must be associated with an emotion.

The bond between author and reader becomes emotional in nature. Obviously, you should not omit for the sake of sorting. You still have to know how and what to omit and know what to leave in the text! The reader does not have to know everything about the main character.  Wikipedia editors for hire an exterior or objective detail allows him to live with the hero.

The detail is significant since it is from it that the structure and the general meaning of the story emerge. It then becomes a symbol. Like Hemingway, the writer must seek purity and truth. The story must suggest much more than it shows…

The iceberg theory in other areas

Hemingway’s iceberg theory has been applied to different fields, including psychology. That is, we only care about what we perceive at first glance. The rest, therefore, goes unnoticed, comparing it to an iceberg. That is, there is a conscious part of the information, but also another unconscious part. Imagine travelling on a boat and seeing an iceberg in the distance, looking at it and what do you see? Just a mass of ice. But also, under this iceberg hides another gigantic mass of ice which maintains and gives strength, as you can see in the picture.

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This is an interesting thing, this part which is invisible to our senses.

When we look at the reality we have before our eyes, we see its surface, the visible, which, according to the iceberg theory, is only 20% of the total.  What about everything else? That would correspond to the unconscious part, 80% of the total. With this, we can sometimes think about the ins and outs of our mind and all of its processes, everything that we don’t see.

As an example, think of the many times we are convinced of an idea and with the easier route. This option would be the one that supports or promotes our idea. We no longer try to find out if we are confused or if we are wrong, but on the contrary, we only seek and defend information that supports our hypothesis. Think that most of the time we deal with assumptions and conclusions based on the information we have, which is not even remote from all of the information that exists in reality. And that is something the iceberg theory warns us about.

We know reality in pieces, our mind invents the rest. Have you ever wondered what is true in the reality you perceive? And what does your mind do with what you don’t know?


When writing a story, don’t ignore your emotions and feelings. Dive into the underwater depths of your being to explore the hidden side of the iceberg. You will undoubtedly get a wonderful story!
In fact, it is above all necessary to be in tune with oneself, to be true. This is writing. What is the use of hiding behind literary flourishes or a bombastic style? You will only please yourself, but above all you will lose your potential readers who will look elsewhere!

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