DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Jul 10 2009

Six Word Stories

by Jesse M

hemingway-picErnest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899—July 2, 1961) is a Pulitzer and Nobel prize winning author considered by many to be one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century. While it would be entirely appropriate to devote an entire blog post to a discussion of his life and works, that is not my intention*. Rather, I am more interested in a form of writing that Hemingway is alleged to have invented single-handedly, on a bet; the six word story.

This is the story he composed.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

The ultimate in minimalist writing, all the more powerful for its brevity, it has inspired scores of imitators, both amateurs and professional authors (including such luminaries as Magaret Atwood, Jeffery Eugenides, Charles Stross, and Orson Scott Card, among others) alike, whose efforts are collected on the excellent website Six Word Stories.

Here are a couple of my favorites:
Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
Alan Moore

Leia: “Baby’s yours.” Luke: “Bad news…”
Steven Meretzky

This form of writing is known as flash fiction, which is commonly defined as any piece of work 1000 words or less, making any six word story an extreme example of the category.

Compose your own and post it in the comments!

*For those interested in further learning, I recommend taking a look at Timeless Hemingway. The website features a wealth of information about the author, including book resources, biographical information, photos, and a quote finder. And of course, we have an impressive collection of works by and about Hemingway here in DCPL.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jnai W July 12, 2009 at 6:08 PM

The Gods exit our Olympiad, underwhelmed.

Great post on flash fiction, Jesse! I love it!

Jimmy L July 13, 2009 at 9:54 AM

Once upon a time; the end.

Ken July 15, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Uninformed. Read blog post. Now enlightened.

Trice August 5, 2009 at 2:52 PM

The Sea called. I answered.

OSCAR August 29, 2011 at 8:23 AM

Candy gone, vegtables still in plate.

Shantrice March 8, 2012 at 4:52 PM

I remember when Mama read aloud.

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