Write a Six Word Story!

A six word story—is that a joke? Not quite, though I thought so at first.

Hemingway is often credited with inventing the six word story when he wrote, “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” This is a downright good piece of writing, and it happens to be only six words long.

I first heard about six word stories in New Media class, and was required to write one myself. Writing super-concisely is a valuable skill in a world overrun with tweets, after all. I created the following.

A world away. Miss you, penpal.

A six word story carries the weight of untold facts and memories behind it. My penpal, a daughter of missionary parents, left America and went to Papua New Guinea when we were both kids. But even without this backstory, you still get the gist in six words.

Genocide. That is why I’m here.”

This story was written by one of my classmates, an American immigrant. Another:

In the ocean, my umbrella’s useless.”

I’ve learned (or at least am beginning to realize) that the six word story can be a powerful tool for writers. It’s fun and easy to write, and can help you solidify your thoughts and get in a creative mood almost immediately. If you have 30 seconds, go ahead and write one now! 30 more seconds? Do a little editing.

Every six word story is an invitation to write more, to imagine more, to remember more stories to tell. They’re starting points for paragraphs, poems, and that tricky scene in your novel. Or, they stand alone, and shine with their untold secrets.

Ready, set, go! Six word story!


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