‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’

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The title of this blog post is a famous piece of work by Ernest Hemingway – he’s said to have called it his finest. It’s an extreme example of what is now called ‘flash fiction’ and in 2006 it spawned a project called Six Word Memoirs. I’ve talked in the past about the importance of both being concise and choosing the right words. Stories in six words demonstrate just how powerful the two can be when done well.

If Hemingway’s example isn’t emotionally impacting you enough, here are some more to consider (courtesy of lolsnaps, but don’t let that influence their literary merit):

  1. Dad left; a flag came back.
  2. It’s our fiftieth. Table for one.
  3. The smallest coffins are the heaviest.
  4. Mum taught me how to shave.

I know all these are pretty depressing but you have to admit that they pack a punch. They also tell you a surprising amount in the subtext. It would take far more than six words to explain everything you now know about each story.

So here’s a little challenge for you. See what you can do with six short words. What story can you tell, and what words are you not saying so loudly that everyone can hear them?

baby-shoes

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