A Six Word Story

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?

8 thoughts on “A Six Word Story

  1. I guess I have a hard time with the 6 word stories because, frankly, I don't think any of them will ever be as good as Hemingway's. I guess I think you need a few more words, most of the time, to really get a story…

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  2. I guess I have a hard time with the 6 word stories because, frankly, I don’t think any of them will ever be as good as Hemingway’s. I guess I think you need a few more words, most of the time, to really get a story…

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  3. I love the idea of 6 word stories. If they are anything, they are hooks or idea generators. You write 6 words and a fertile mind will up and run with it, imagining all sorts of things. Here's a couple:

    She shouldn't have come here tonight.

    The heavy silence pounded at him.

    It's a good exercise to get your opening lines going.

    Emily
    http://emilybecher.blogspot.com

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  4. I love the idea of 6 word stories. If they are anything, they are hooks or idea generators. You write 6 words and a fertile mind will up and run with it, imagining all sorts of things. Here’s a couple:

    She shouldn’t have come here tonight.

    The heavy silence pounded at him.

    It’s a good exercise to get your opening lines going.

    Emily
    http://emilybecher.blogspot.com

    Like

  5. Word Nerd – Fair enough. There can only be one true Hemingway, after all…

    Emily – I think they’re great for opening lines, too. I mean, my opening line is much longer than six words, but that’s beside the point….

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  6. Word Nerd – Fair enough. There can only be one true Hemingway, after all…

    Emily – I think they’re great for opening lines, too. I mean, my opening line is much longer than six words, but that’s beside the point….

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