Monday, January 8, 2018

Six-word short stories

     Ernest Hemingway is credited with originating this ultra-brief story form.  His memorable example is:
     FOR SALE: Baby shoes.  Never worn.

     Narrative Magazine, in addition to sponsoring various prestigious fiction, poetry, and nonfiction contests, regularly publishes six-word stories on their website and on their iPhone app.  They pay $50 per story (that’s a generous $16.66 per word; I’ve worked for far less in the magazine business over the years).

 A few examples:

      YOUTH by Gabriella Deich
     Three words.  Never spoken.  Always regretted.

     GRIEF, by Alistair Daniel
     Without thinking, I made two cups.

     IN COUNTRY, by Robert Olen Butler
     Saigon Hotel.  Decades later.  He weeps.

     SHY, by sixteen-year-old Marlon Jiminez
     Sitting next to her, saying nothing.

     ERUDITION, by Rickey Pittman
     Politician’s library burns.  Both books lost.

     You can read more examples on the Narrative website in wide variety.  It’s astonishing to me that so much vivid imagery and emotion can be stirred by so few words.

     I’ve come up with a dozen or so and have recently submitted them.
On some bad-weather day, while you’re busily procrastinating, why not take a break and try a few yourself?  They’re more of a challenge than you might think.

     They’re fun, too.


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