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Can you write a six word story?

It feels like there are more and more competitions for short stories these days. And by short, I mean really short – flash fiction competitions for stories with fewer than 500, 300, or even 100 words. Even a competition run by the Sunday Times for a 10 word story.

It seems like a modern trend, but Ernest Hemingway was celebrated for his brevity nearly one hundred years ago. Not just were his novels spare, without a word wasted, his first story collection, in our time, featured eighteen stories in which only four had more than 250 words, and the shortest was a mere 75. (For comparison; I’ve already exceeded 100 to get to this point.)

Hemingway was thought for many years to have written a story in 6 words as a bet with William Faulkner. This has been proved to be an urban myth, but no one has identified the actual author. The story did however adhere to Hemingway’s famous ‘iceberg’ theory – that a story should only reveal a fraction of its meaning and leave the rest to be uncovered by the reader’s imagination.

So, here is the famous story.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Makes you think – and feel – doesn’t it? In just 6 words!

If you want something a little longer, here are the links to my books:


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