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’.