Six Word Stories: How to Write the Shortest Story You’ll Never Forget

From The Write Practice:

According to legend, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a short story using only six words. Ernest Hemingway’s story? It was: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

While you’re not going to be able to tell an entire life story in six words, you just might be able to catch a movement of conflict or a significant moment in a character’s life. Plus it’s fun. Let’s look at how to write a really short story.

Six word stories are a great way to practice your writing without actually having to write much. They can also be used to warm up before working on a novel or short story.

When I first heard about six word stories, I thought, “A whole story in six words? That’s impossible!”

Then I wrote my first one. It was really easy, not to mention fun! Once you write your first, you can write a whole slew of them. Let’s look at how to write one.

1. Read examples

Start by looking at some examples. A great website you can use is If you just want to look at a few examples, here are some I liked:

“Rapunzel! I am slipping! A wig?!”

Misleadingly deep puddle. Curious child missing.

“I love you, too,” she lied.

2. Choose a Moment of Conflict

Part of what makes a story, well, a story is a goal coupled with conflict. Think about the examples we listed above. Where is the moment of conflict?

Rapunzel’s suitor has a goal (reaching Rapunzel) and the conflict is that the hair he is climbing is a wig that is slipping. Oops.

The second one implies one of two stories: the child lost in a puddle OR what happens next when someone realizes the child’s fallen in. The goal will determine the conflict.

In the third one, the goal is to mislead someone. The conflict? The lie (or maybe why she lies).

Link to the rest at The Write Practice

6 thoughts on “Six Word Stories: How to Write the Shortest Story You’ll Never Forget”

  1. Good point, Felix.

    However, the knocking, indicating a presence just beyond a closed door, feels more visceral and immediate as opposed to a ringing phone. Well worth the extra words in my opinion.

    In any event, you want to read on to see what happens.

    • Definitely.
      Who’s come a’calling? The last woman? An alien? A vampire? A robot?
      And how do we know he truly is the last man?

      Reminds me of the second best line in NIGHT OF THE COMET.
      “Either the last man on Earth is a total gentleman…or he’s gay…”

      (Best line: “Daddy would’ve gotten us Uzis.”)

      The ringing phone would be a robocall reminding him to register to vote.

      • Oh goodness. I literally just watched that movie last night! I’ve been thinking about it all day. And the “best line” was indeed my favorite line. A fun B-movie from the 80s, and I don’t know how I missed it.

        Offhand, I love stories with atypical protagonists. A cheerleader who knows how to use Uzis, a video gamer who still rocks a killer dress, and a trucker with a heart of gold — Chakotay! — forming a Brady Bunch family at the end. It’s my kind of zany, and it’s no wonder Tubi put the movie in their “cult classics” section.

        • Valley Girls vs zombies.
          How could that possibly be bad? 😀

          Short list for top ten (low budget) SF movies ever.
          Right down there with A BOY AND HIS DOG.

Comments are closed.