Monday, May 9, 2011

Hemingway Challenge

For a bet, Ernest Hemingway once wrote a story in only six words:
“For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

He manages to tell a heartbreaking tale in the shortest amount of space possible. Some say this was his favorite piece. Having read of his six-word triumph, Wired magazine asked several sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers to do the same. Here are a few of the best:
“Automobile warranty expires. So does engine.”
- Stan Lee
“Starlet sex scandal. Giant squid involved.”
- Margaret Atwood
“Leia: ‘Baby's yours.’ Luke: ‘Bad news…’”
- Steven Meretzky
“Epitaph: Foolish humans, never escaped Earth.”
- Vernor Vinge
“Lie detector eyeglasses perfected: Civilization collapses.”
- Richard Powers
“The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly.”
- Orson Scott Card
“Batman Sues Batsignal: Demands Trademark Royalties.”
- Cory Doctorow
“Heaven falls. Details at eleven.”
- Robert Jordan
“Dinosaurs return. Want their oil back.”
- David Brin
And my personal favorite:
“Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.”
- Joss Whedon

As the type of writer who often uses ten words where five would do – making revisions long and challenging, I often wonder how some writers manage to be so succinct. But reading these six-word stories, I’m amazed at how much you can say with so little. From Atwood’s commentary on modern celebrity to Whedon’s brilliant evocation of Anne Boleyn style-death, these ‘very short stories’ prove that less is not only more, it’s plenty . 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post this.. Excites me to try more in this format