These brief but potent stories were “inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s famous challenge and first 6 word story,
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
To write one of these short stories there are two guiding rules.
- Have tension. Because of the brief nature of the story, there needs to be a tension in the story, but no resolution. As you saw in Hemingway’s example, the tension is between the first half of the sentence ‘For sale: baby shoes’ and the second half ‘never worn. With no tension, no conflict, there is no story.
- Rely on punctuation. While you don’t have to follow this rule, it does take you to new places. It also allows you as a writer to practice your craft in its smallest form. Not sure how to use a colon? Write a 6 word story. Never tried em dashes? Write a 6 word story. You’re not committing to a long form but keep interested in the challenge of creating a story with tension. Plus, this is a word challenge, not a character challenge. If you want that, write a tweet.
But what is the point of writing such a short story?
These stories not only let you hone your craft as a writer, they also can be used as content for tweets and other social media posts. They also teach you to instill a story in as small of a piece as possible, a great skill for querying and pitching where you have a lot smaller of space to tell your concept.
I challenge you to write a 6 word story about your current or last manuscript, tweet it and tag me @stammcanada.