Wednesday, October 29, 2008

For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn

As the story goes, Ernest Hemingway once wrote this 6-word tale to settle a bar debt. It’s an extreme example of Flash Fiction, which The Free Dictionary defines as “fiction characterized by its extreme brevity, as measured by its length in words”
It’s also called Sudden Fiction, Microfiction, Micro-Story, Postcard Fiction, and Short Short Story.”

Ernest Hemingway’s story is extraordinary because it truly is a story. It has a beginning, a middle and an end -- all in six words. There's the mystery of what happened to the baby. Was it born? Why were the shoes never worn? Did the baby just go barefoot? Or does this story hint at some tragedy?

I’m hoping I can challenge you to tell a story with just six words and that you’ll post it in this blog’s comments field.

To get you started, here are 13 examples from “Not Quite What I Was Planning,” a book of six-word memoirs published by the SMITH magazine.


1.“Cursed with cancer. Blessed with friends.” Hannah Davies

2.“I’m just here for the beer.” Alex Vournas

3. “I answer to the name Mom.” Lynne Chesterman

4.“ Life has gone to the dogs.” Ted Rheingold

5. “Memory was my drug of choice.” Pea Hicks

6. “Unhappy joke writer hugs her chihuahua.” Jessica Salmonson

7. “Still here despite logic and likelihood.” Elisha Marshall

8. “Didn’t fit in then; still don’t.” Bob Fingerman

9. “Buried gold long ago. Can’t find.” Maureen Barnes

10. “Put my whole self in, shook about.” Melissa Delzio

11. “Came out. Went in. Came out.” Earl Adams

12. “Saw the sky and started walking.” Mark Sundeen

13. “Lucky in everything else but love.” Eliot Sheridan

Now for your opportunity: Please share a story using only six words.
Having problems? If you’re not sure what to write, go to to see SMITH magazine’s ever-growing collection of memoirs. Or check out “Not Quite What I Was Planning,” a fun book to read, full of profound, silly, thoughtful, provocative life stories all in a sentence or two.

To start you off, here’s mine: “Sons in school. Time to write.”

And here’s a writing buddy’s: “Ex missed curve. Insurance pays off.”


  1. Fun List. I'm Not sure I can tell a story in six words, but I'll give it some thought.

  2. I'm feeling kind of sevenish myself today.

  3. Would be quite difficult for me !

  4. Hmm, let's see...

    The sun rose, shined, then set.

  5. No. 6 speaks to me in a big way.

    "Came, saw, conquered, went to therapy."

  6. I'm terribly sorry for the inconvenience.

  7. We did this on an email list a while back--interesting how different the results were!

    Mine was:
    Thought I'd do better; got lucky.

  8. Sandy,
    Ha! LOL, your six-words are great.

  9. Darla,
    I like the mystery in yours.

  10. Very clever doubledeckerbusguy. ;)

  11. What a great TT. Hmmm, my life in six words.

    Without my family, I'm not whole.

  12. Stay at home moms do everything.

  13. Interesting topic for TT. I can relate to few of the quotes.

  14. Books, cats, family; life is good.

    Jody W.

  15. Cookie,
    Oh, can I relate with yours!

  16. Um...

    The kitten loved my clean laundry.

    Or perhaps...

    I disappeared fortuitously. I reappeared confused.

  17. Thanks celticlibrarian, I love them both.

  18. I'm not good at these things, i kept thinking of my six words all day but couldn't come up with anything!

    Great TT though :) Happy halloween!

  19. Here's the 6-word story of my life: "I've always preferred fantasy to reality." How did I do?

    Thanks for visiting my TT.

  20. I love these! They are my favorite. And your commenters are fabulous too!

    Here's mine:

    Won powerball. Gained friends. Lost mind.

  21. the gal herself,
    Your six-word memoir is great!

  22. on a limb with claudia,
    LOL, good one!

  23. Pretty sure I can't tell a story in six words. I'm too verbal! Enjoyed your TT.

  24. Hmm... this is hard!

    Sucky childhood leads to great material.