This month, I’m doing a series of short exercises, one a week, to help those of you who are stuck with your WIP. Maybe you’re doing NaNoWriMo, maybe not. In any case, it helps to have an exercise to spark your imagination.
This week’s exercise is a challenge in brevity. The goal of NaNoWriMo, for instance, is to write 50k words in a month. A 50k word work is about the length of a short novel, similar to an Avon or Harlequin romance. This can be a challenge in and of itself… how do you write a novel with developed characters and an interesting plot in 50k words? Some writers, who are cheating themselves, will litter their WIP with adverbs, adjectives, and unnecessary description just to make that word count goal.
Here is a popular and well-known writing exercise… Hemingway was once given a challenge to write an entire story in only six words. His answer:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
Apparently, he thought it was his greatest literary work ever. It speaks to the audience, and pulls them in. We know the ending to the story, and can surmise how it began. Most importantly, we care.
Here are some of my six word stories:
He smiled, and her world ended.
She always hated writing the beginning.
Her lips were chapped. Damn frogs.
Required: knight in armor (shining optional).
There are many writers who practice this sort of flash fiction through their Twitter accounts, where each update can only be 140 characters long. Can you tell a story in a sentence? What is your six word story? Do you even count these micro-narratives as stories?