It all started with a bet. I like to imagine that Ernest Hemingway was drinking something murky and alcoholic with his ‘lost generation’ of American expatriates in a smoky 1920’s Parisian bar. The prize: Ten dollars. The challenge: To come up with a complete narrative in only six words.
Famously, Hemingway came up with this:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
It says it all – the whole story. Simple. Understated. Economical. Sometimes it’s what isn’t said that resonates most. In these six words, it’s the stuff that’s inferred that completes this story and gives it a beginning, middle and an end.
Hemingway’s exercise in the power of editing has inspired loads of well-known authors and other artistic types to put pen to paper and come up with their own six word stories. Here are a few good ones I found:
Corpse parts missing. Doctor buys yacht. (Margaret Atwood)
whorl. Help! I’m caught in a time (Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel)
Lovely spring weather bubonic plague raging. (Evelyn Waugh)
“The Earth? We ate it yesterday.” (Yann Martel)
“Apple?” “No.” “Taste!” “ADAM?” Oh God. ( David Lodge)
And here are some I came up with myself:
Servant girl loses slipper. Finds prince.
Missing: pet rabbit. Stew for dinner.
“Zombie!” “Get back!” “Ouch! . . . Ummm brains . . .”
So in the spirit of Hemingway, I’d like to place a bet with you. The challenge: To come up with your own complete story in only six words. The prize: your own personal pride.