Hemingway’s Six Word Novel

There’s a story that circles the internet that claims, whilst lunching lunching at Luchow’s with a bunch of writer friends, Ernest Hemingway claimed that he could write a short story that was only six words long. Of course, the other writers balked.

“A 6 word story? That’s only two words for the start, two for the middle and two for the end!”

Continuing his role as the provocateur, Hemingway added that his six-word story would bring each of them to tears. Exuding confidence, he told each of them to put ten dollars in the middle of the table. “If I cannot perform the feat,” he said, “I will match it. If not, I keep the entire pot.” He quickly wrote six words down on a napkin and passed it around. Papa won the bet.

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

The six words carry such power because it they allow the reader to finish the story. It’s a good story and a lesson in creating impact: don’t be scared of letting the audience do some work.

If you want a more in-depth look at the impact of short words and short sentences you might like to check out ‘The Power Of Four Little Words’.

Hey. I’m Alex Murrell. I'm a Planner at Epoch Design in Bristol where I help deliver highly creative, innovative and effective pack, instore and online communications for some of the world’s biggest FMCG brands. Want to know more? You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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