Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Six-Word Stories

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

It might be apocryphal, but Ernest Hemingway supposedly said this six-word story was the best story he had ever written.

My husband is teaching writing again this coming semester, and may use the six-word story as an exercise for his students. It is a great way to distill a story to its essence.

We actually use this with the kids as a traveling game in the car. You can make up your own six-word stories, or you can try to fit classics into the six-word paradigm.

For example, my son made up this original one:

“Boy jumps, flies, superhero is born.”

And my husband distilled Star Wars (the original movie, now subtitled A New Hope) into these six words:

“Restless farmboy escapes skyward, saves rebellion.”

I looked around and found two magazine articles that featured six-word stories by interesting contemporary writers. The Wired article focuses more on sci-fi writers, and the Guardian article has a British bent, and both are worth checking out.

Here are a few of my favorites:

“It can't be. I'm a virgin." - Kate Atkinson

Dad called: DNA back: he isn't. - Helen Fielding

Armageddon imminent. Make list. Tick most. - Ian Rankin

"The Earth? We ate it yesterday." - Yann Martel

Longed for him. Got him. Shit. - Margaret Atwood

Starlet sex scandal. Giant squid involved. - Margaret Atwood

It’s behind you! Hurry before it - Rockne S. O’Bannon

Try it--it's fun! Comment and let me know what you come up with.


Anonymous said...

Hee,hee.. I'm sorry I can't come up with anything right now but these are great.

Gentle Reader said...

iliana--it's okay. You'll notice I didn't come up with any, either. But I'm glad you enjoyed them!

Joy said...

I love these kinds of stories. Very creative. :)

Meredith said...

I wrote on the same topic.


We seem to have much in common!

John Mutford said...

You have to let me link this post for my short story themed book carnival in November! Please!!!

Dewey said...

Piss off cat? Hairball in shoe.

Gentle Reader said...

joy--me too, wish I was better at writing them!

bellezza--I'll check it out, and I think we do have much in common--I'm glad!

john--absolutely, sounds good, I'm in!

dewey--fabulous, I love it. My husband giggled, too!

Dewey said...

Yay, I love to make people giggle. :)

John Mutford said...

She binged on life, then purged.

Sorry mine sounds like a public service announcement.

Gentle Reader said...

dewey--And your story is so true, too. My cats are always registering their disapproval that way, or at least it feels like it :)

john--No, it's great! Not public service-y at all! Much more poetic than that :)

tanabata said...

These are great! :)

Lotus Reads said...

Love,love,LOVE this Gentle Reader! Wish I was clever enough to come up with something.

"Tried hard to be clever, failed."

lol, but I will keep trying till I come up with something! :)

Gentle Reader said...

tanabata--we have fun with them at our house, that's for sure!

lotus--I like yours--it's clever to me!

Chris said...

I love those 6 word stories!

I'm using one in my short story post today.

Name that short story!