The Iceberg Theory is the writing style of American writer Ernest Hemingway. Influenced by his journalistic career, Hemingway contendedt that by omitting superfluous and extraneous matter, writing becomes more interesting. When he became a writer of short stories, he retained this minimalistic style, focusing on surface elements without explicitly discussing the underlying themes. Hemingway believed the true meaning of a piece of writing should not be evident from the surface story, rather, the crux of the story lies below the surface and should be allowed to shine through. Critics such as Jackson Benson claim that his iceberg theory, also known as the theory of omission, in combination with his distinctive clarity of writing, functioned as a means to distance himself from the characters he created.
Hemingway summarizes his theory as follows:
If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing
Ernest Hemingway in Death in the Afternoon