Six-word stories are remarkable because they elicit emotion while concisely creating a story. I think that every writer should try to write in this style to challenge themselves to use the most powerful and provocative words they can. Even if you aren’t a writer, I think reading six-word stories can be a great way to highlight the talent that there is out there in the world. Check out some of my favorite six-word stories that are incredibly powerful!
1. Ernest Hemingway
For sale: baby shoes, never worn
This famous six-word story is so rich in emotion it’s incredible. Your mind begins to fill in the blanks of what could happen, overcome with the nostalgic loss of the parents regardless of what the details were. I find it remarkable that writers can evoke such emotion with so few words. It just goes to show that you don’t need to prattle on aimlessly if you can articulate your point in a few words.
2. W. S. Merwin
Who would I show it to?
This poem “Elegy” by W. S. Merwin could be interpreted numerous different ways. We discussed it in a creative writing class I took in college. I originally interpreted the poem as that of someone refusing to write a story because there was no one in their life left who would excitedly receive it. However, I found out that an “elegy” is a type of melancholic poem, typically one found at a funeral. Rereading the six-word story in that context makes me feel the loss of the narrator who can’t even show it to the person who mattered.
3. Erin Holl
Children are fragile. Handle with care.
I think it’s important to remember the impressionable minds that children have. Sure, we are all affected by the things around us, but children are so eager to accept what their loved ones do. In fact, psychology shows us that their development branches from taking in everything around them and then choosing to make their decisions as a result.
4. Jackie Ray Littman
It’s like jumping without a parachute.
I begin to wonder what the author means. Starting a new job? Getting married? Having children? Recovering from your anxiety disorder? There are so many thoughts that come to mind when I read this six-word story. What does it make you think of?
5. Stephen Colbert
Well, I thought it was funny.
That’s great! I can definitely relate to moments like that when you are super excited to tell a story that you’re sure your friends will love and then they dismiss it without a second thought. Sometimes, I find myself laughing regardless because I find it funny.
6. Nikki Beland
Catholic school backfired. Sin is in!
Smith magazine asked for six-word memoirs from their readers. Their book “Not Quite What I Was Planning” contains this lovely jewel by Nikki Beland. I went to Catholic school and I can relate to this entirely. There is a rebel attitude that we adopt when put in certain environments that may have the counter effect than what it intended.
I did not plan for this.
I wrote this six-word story in response to Smith magazine’s desire to post a memoir in such few words. I feel that it’s powerful because it can go in so many directions. You didn’t plan for the rain so you don’t have an umbrella. You didn’t plan to go this way in life but have somehow ended up here. Personally, I meant the latter. But that’s the beauty of six-word stories, you are the interpreter.
If you had to describe your life in six-words, what would you say? What are some other six-word stories that you like? What’s your favorite?