Flash fiction: Six word stories

downloadMay 23, 2014 – Ernest Hemingway once accepted a bet that he could write a novel in less than 10 words that was so good it would make people cry. He wrote:

“Baby shoes for sale, never worn.”

These six words do tell a sad and compelling story, so I’d say he won the bet.

Sometime later, other authors gave the exercise a try, including Margaret Atwood, who came up with this gem:

“Longed for him. Got him. Shit.”

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with flash fiction – the shorter the better – and by the writers who create it. Although it doesn’t capture the depth and feeling of the authors above, here is my first feeble attempt at the six-word story challenge:

“Tempting fate, she opened the door.”

I realize it leaves too much to the imagination. The stories from Hemingway and Atwood tell a complete story, and that is what I aim to achieve. My words would make a better teaser as the last sentence to a chapter in a mystery novel.

When my son saw my notepad of scribbled six-word story attempts, I explained what I was doing and he wanted in on the action. He wrote the nine-word story below:

“Science! No longer see the world through my eyes.”

I also explained that learning the art of flash fiction — or in this case micro fiction — makes you a better writer because it teaches you how to remove the unnecessary clutter. I’ll leave you with a couple more of the better of my many less than stellar attempts, and a promise that I will stick with it until I get it right:

“Bereavement. Pills. She’d join him today.”

“Rough sea. Capsized boat. Weatherman right.”



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A girl trying to live the dream.

2 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Six word stories”

    1. Nice, Linda! For some reason, it’s intuitive to go with the sad mode with these. Hemingway’s was very sad. Atwood’s was sad too but in a funny way. Watch out, these are addictive.

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