As the story goes, the writer Ernest Hemingway was in a restaurant with friends, when he made a wager; he bet everyone at the table $10 that he could write an entire story in just six words, and if he couldn’t, he would double their money. As the money was collected, Hemingway got out his pen and wrote on a napkin…
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Is the story true? Possibly. Possibly not. Unfortunately we will never know for certain, as this story was attributed to Hemingway in 1991, thirty years after his death.
Whether or not Hemingway was one of the first six word story writers, its lasting effect has remained. The six word story is still as prevalent as ever, with many writers being put to the test to effectively come up with a successful story, featuring the same impact and emotion that is bestowed upon Hemingway’s attempt.
I have found great interest in the six word story, seeking out other writer’s stories and writing my own. One of the great joys of a six word story is that it can be used to represent anything that you want, just as the back story behind Hemingway’s version is left to the reader’s imagination. One of my stories; ‘This much I know; it’s real’ provoked a great response from many readers, with people sending me photos of what this six word story meant to them, ranging from a couple in love to a photo of the stars. (Read more of my Six Word Stories here).
Despite being a seemingly easy task, those amongst you who have attempted short story writing in any form will know it’s not as easy as it may appear. To incorporate all that you want to say in six words – whether it is sadness, happiness, humour, or something else – can be quite the challenge.
There have been some variations over the years, including a recent popularity in twelve word stories, but the six word story still remains one of the most popular forms of writing. In 2007, The Guardian newspaper asked a variety of contemporary writers to send in their own stories, resulting in this great collection. My personal favourite being; ‘Thought love must fade: but no’ by American writer George Saunders.
I would like to set my readers a challenge, to write a six word story and share it with us at To Be Frank Magazine. It can be about absolutely anything and appear in any style you like; we only ask that it is six words long and it is your own work.
Spread the word, and send us your Six Word Stories!
Read the article at tobefrankmagazine.com