Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Six-word stories — why?


NUmber 6

Now and then I’ll notice a writing challenge to cook up a story in six words or fewer. It comes from the famous anecdote about Hemingway betting his compeers at the Algonquin Hotel that he could tell a complete story in under ten words (though the veracity of the tale is in question!). What he came up with was: “For sale: baby shoes. Never used.”

Here’s a whole website dedicated to six-word stories. Kill some time there. You can even submit your own. (The most recent ones there are from last February, so maybe it’s not active anymore…)

To my possibly jaded mind, the six-word story is almost never a real story. It’s a tag line. There’s seldom a real character, action, or movement. In other words, the idea that you can tell a formal story in six words is more of a parlor game than anything very meaningful, writingwise. Sure, the exercise might help you come up with something you can use later, or get you to focus your mind on the crucial elements of a real story. But as a standalone? No way. It’s haiku without the elegance.

Still, it can be fun to mess around with!

Care to contribute one in the comments? I’ll throw one in to start things off:

“I’m dressed. He ran. No wedding.”

8 comments on “Six-word stories — why?

  1. Charles Yallowitz
    December 11, 2013

    He wailed, I cried. New parent.

  2. John W. Howell
    December 11, 2013

    I reached, He reached. Long fall.

  3. ericjbaker
    December 11, 2013

    What? Shit, I’m out of words.

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This entry was posted on December 11, 2013 by in Writing and tagged , , .
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