Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Six-Word Stories

I've been revising a novel that runs about 80,000 words and writing web copy for a large site. So today's blog will be short on words. Which can be a good thing. No one could pare writing to the bone quite like Hemingway. He even created the six-word story:

For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. -- Ernest Hemingway 

A six-word story packs conflict, movement, and resolution -- all into one quick fix. Perfect for today's readers' short attention spans. It's hard to believe that Hemingway came up with the idea long before twitter was even a tweet on anyone's screen. (Not that I would compare his writing with tweeting. Ever.)

But, really, brewing a cup of tea and curling up in front of the fire with a good six-word story doesn't quite do it for me. And who can get excited about slathering on the sunscreen, setting up the beach chair, and losing yourself in the summer's hottest six-word bestseller? Long live the novel.

Still, it's fun to see how much a few words can convey. Fun, but not necessarily easy. Concise writing takes time. As Blaise Pascal said, "If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter."

Do you have any six-word stories to share? Here are four of my attempts. Then back to slaving over the 80,000-word manuscript...which is probably 79,994 words too long for its own good.

Lost: Man
Found: Woman
Name: Tony(a)

Another moving day. I can’t. Move.

Mrs. Leone Chao Schwartz Leone

The sun didn’t rise. The end.


  1. The world awaits her novel manuscript.

  2. @Suzanne: I think we can make an exception to the rule in order to include the words: with bated breath.
    @Chelo: Uh oh. Can't wait for the sequel.

  3. One new grandbaby rebooted my life.

  4. For a good time call Becky

  5. @SeaD: Love this.
    @Ken: Copying from the bathroom wall doesn't count.

  6. @elle: Knowing we needed her, she stayed.