The idea supposedly originated with a bunch of writing cronies who got together and placed a bet about who could produce a short story that was only six words long. Or who could write the shortest story that could make someone cry. Or who could write the shortest story. The details are nebulous, if they’re true at all, but supposedly Ernest Hemingway won hands down with this:
For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.
Pretty powerful stuff, those sentences.
Its origin notwithstanding, the idea fascinates me. It offers a clear illustration of the power of words, thoughtfully and carefully chosen–one of my favorite topics.
Six-word stories are tough to master; if you thought staying within Twitter’s 144-character limit was hard, it’s nothing compared to this. Succeed in six words, and you’ll feel like a genius. It’s a great brain exercise, and your “regular” writing will be better for it.
Here are a few of my favorites from sixwordstories.net*:
Painfully, he changed “is” to “was.”
Smoking my very last cigarette. Again.
Born a twin; graduated only child.
Sorry, soldier. Shoes sold in pairs.
Amazing how six words can tell you all you need to know. Try it; I dare you. You’ll be better for it.
Every word matters; choose each thoughtfully.
*The sixwordstories.net website and its corresponding Facebook page haven’t shown any activity for more than a year. They’re still fun to poke around, though.
Special note to JHS, TJT, RDH, and CC: you wordsmith/writer types are on notice. I want to see what you can produce in six words. I promise, this will be better than the ice bucket challenge!