Legend goes in the 1920’s someone bet Ernest Hemingway ten bucks he couldn’t write a story in six words. He came up with:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
He won the bet. He even went so far as to declare his six-word story his best work. That’s saying something since he went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea followed by the Noble Prize for Literature in 1954. Wikipedia states “Hemingway's distinctive writing style is characterized by economy and understatement, and had a significant influence on the development of twentieth-century fiction writing.”
I’m no Hemingway expert, I’ve only read the one short story, but even I get the point. Less can be more. No unnecessary backstory. No convoluted, lengthy explanations. Zero research. Only possibilities.
Here’s an example of a six-word story by Margaret Attwood, our Canadian goddess of the written word.
Longed for him. Got him. Shit.
There are short stories known for their extreme brevity (1000 words or less). They contain the usual: a protagonist, conflict, complications and an outcome, some of which are hinted at or implied. Nanofiction involve at least one character and a plot and are exactly fifty-five words in length. Drabble – one hundred words. Who knew?
Have you ever tried your hand at flash fiction or postcard fiction? Do you want to have some fun today? Give the six-word story a try and post your efforts in the comments.