Do You Have a Six Word Story?

Photo by "aguima" via StockXchngOne of Ernest Hemingway’s best known stories isn’t a novel.  It’s these six words:                  “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Isn’t that heartbreaking? In those six words, you have emotion, character and even plot, if you read between the lines.

I don’t remember what we were talking about in one of my spring classes, but someone referenced this, I quoted it, and our instructor delayed his planned writing activity and said “Let’s do it!”

We blanched.  He gave us ten minutes.  So, being dutiful students (and willing to try most any writing exercise), we bent heads and put pen to paper.  Here are a few of the resulting stories:

Mine:  “Blizzard.  Heat, electricity vanish.  Autumn baby.”

Cassandra Leonard:  “I ate.  I swam.  I barfed.”

Kyle Keller:  “After prom, cab fare for one.”

Prof. Keith Leonard (no relation to Cassandra):  “He fell.  I took a picture.”

Note my classmates:  I didn’t think to write down names as we read them, and these were the ones I could match to the right people.  So please refresh my memory and share yours in the comments!  

When you ponder any one of these, you envision your own characters, but it’s easy to think about their stories.  What went so wrong on prom night and what will he or she do after getting home?  And what kind of person would stand by and watch while someone fell? And from where – a curb or a cliff?  (Hey Keith, enquiring minds want to know!)

It’s not easy to come up with a complete story in six words, but it’s possible.  Can you do it?  Share one in the comments below!

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15 Responses to Do You Have a Six Word Story?

  1. I actually sucked in my breath with a couple of these. How powerful. I doubt I could ever be that brief. But I’ll give it some thought. Back later if I come up with anything.
    Kassandra Lamb recently posted..EMOTIONS 101: Two Simple Hints For Figuring Out What We’re FeelingMy Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      Definitely come back later, Kassandra – we want to know yours! I think we just tried to think of a cause and effect, and then describe in one or two words like I did, or describe the effect so a reader can tell what happened first.

  2. That Hemingway one gets me every time. Wow. Smith mag has an online six word memoir–where you can put it one. I think mine was “Making it up as I go.” 🙂
    Coleen Patrick recently posted..The Quickening: From Baby to High School Graduate in Sixty SecondsMy Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      Coleen, you’re a mind reader – the six word memoir will be the next post. So what’s your six word fiction?

  3. I love these “short stories”. Here’s mine:

    “Retired Cinderella searching for new shoes.”

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      Love it! Makes me wondering if she wants new shoes that aren’t glass because she loves her life, or if she needs new shoes to catch a new prince. 🙂

  4. Hm. How about “Bottled amnesia. Others call it whiskey.”
    Kassandra Lamb recently posted..My Tour of Fives–I’m leaving a trail of bread crumbs…My Profile

  5. This is an interesting exercise Jennifer. Hmm. Coming after Kassandra has intimidated me. lol. Let me see what I can come up with off the cuff. He surfed. Fell in love. Forever. There you go! Great idea Jennifer! 🙂
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Let’s Whip Our Summer Into Shape!My Profile

  6. Jennifer Jensen says:

    Yay, Karen. Romance in six words!

  7. Thanks, Jennifer and Karen! All of these are great.

    But seriously, I’m a little old lady. How could I be intimidating? 😉
    Kassandra Lamb recently posted..My Tour of Fives–I’m leaving a trail of bread crumbs…My Profile

  8. Pingback: What Can You Say in a Six Word Memoir? | Jennifer Jensen

  9. These are great! It’s a wonderful writing exercise. I don’t know that I’ve ever written anything that short. What about this: “Too loud here. Meet me. Forest.”
    Denise D. Young recently posted..dusting off my blog–finally!My Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      Hi, Denise. Good for you for trying a six-word story! A quiet meeting in a forest . . . I think I want to go! I’m off to check out your blog now. Thanks for stopping by, Jen