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Monday, October 23, 2006

 

A short short short challenge

Wired magazine published 33 short stories in the latest issue. Each one is 6 words long. They got the idea from Hemingway.

Here's his original "hyper short short":
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
I don't know the copyright rules on six word short stories, but I'm going to reprint my favorites from that issue as a challenge to others. Write a six-word story in comments.
Gown removed carelessly. Head less so. (Joss Whedon)
machine. Unexpectedly, I'd invented a time (Alan Moore)
It cost too much, staying human. (Bruce Sterling)
I'm dead. I've missed you. Kiss . . . ? (Neil Gaiman)
The baby's blood typ? Human, mostly. (Orson Scott Card)
To save humankind he died again. (Ben Bova)
Here's one I don't quite get by the way. Can anyone explain it?
Tick tock tick tock tick tick. (Neal Stephenson)
(I know they are all men. I swear it's not an evil conspiracy. Margaret Atwood had a good one, but I'm not going to post it here.)

So let me repeat the challenge. Write a story in six words. Leave it in the comments. I'll put one there too.

Update: Brian Clark has some interesting tips on using bullets as a way to focus the message and even invoke action on the part of the reader. Hyper short short stories (whether 6 words or slightly longer) seem like the perfect way to add some zest to bullets.

Another Update: Brian posted an article about Hemingway's six word story as a guide for copywriting. And Wired posted a full list of the stories on their site.

Comments:
GMO's are harmless. Have a bite.
 
Here's a few that I published at my blog:

Born twice. Life doozy in between.

Climbing Everest. Four up. Two down.

Thanks for the challenge! I needed a diversion.
 
I'm so ashamed. Two people beat me to my own challenge. (Actually, I think that's pretty cool.)

Patrick, I really like the Everest one.
l.l., good voice--in just six words!

Here are my efforts:

Planes fly like eagles. John doesn't.
She played with Death until--checkmate.

These next ones don't really count as stories, but they are six words and I had fun with them:

Happily ever after happily never comes.
Musical chairs solitaire: Stop music. Sit.
Jesus Christ Superstar Two (in production)
 
Blood stains prove nothing. Run anyway.

Tamper proof orthodoxy sealed his fate.

Did you just bite me dear?
 
Aircraft black box recording, "Watch this!"

Cancer. We got it all. Cancer.

Once Dad said I love you.

Shep
 
Karl, good to hear from you man! I didn't know you wrote fiction. Great stuff. "Blood stains" is good. And there's a great ring in that phrase "tamper proof orthodoxy." Very poetic.

Shep. "Black box" made me laugh. Well, sort of. "Once Dad" made me sad.

And once again thankful for my own dad. He said, "I love you" often and with sincerity. More important than his words , though, were his actions. He was (and is) always there for us.
 
And for everyone as clueless as I am, GMO's are "genetically modified organisms."

Clever trick to get such a long phrase and a verb into one word! Every word counts.
 
Bows are knots, that are not.

A. Hamilton
www.fromthepen.com

Regards
Buck
 
Hi, Mark! I clicked over from RLP.

The "ticking clock" is a much-used device in fiction. It refers to a time limit imposed on the plot and characters. At its most basic, there's a bomb that's going to go off at 12:06 PM, and the characters have to race to save the planet/city/orphanage. Every page of the book is more time used up.

Like car chases, ticking clocks can be misused; but a well-used one really cranks the tension.
 
Keith, I understood that it was a ticking clock. I just didn't understand how that made it a story.

Am I supposed to think the clock is going to explode in the last two words?

See, the thing about Hemingway's story is that it has implied characters, setting, and conflict. In SIX words!

As much as I like Neal Stephenson, I'm not getting the characters or the setting. And I'm not sure I'm getting the conflict.
 
What happened to you blog? It seems to have entered a time warp. New stuff is missing, old stuff up front? Shep
 
This clock tock might work better...

Tick tock tick tock click boom

Explosive stuff in six little words

John
 
I couldn't stay. I woke up.
 

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