Hemingway’s six word short story

six_wordYeah, I know there’s no proof that he actually wrote it, but it’s still one of the most impressive sentences ever written. When I first read it, I spent half an hour imagining all sorts of plausible scenarios. I even thought about expanding the thing and write a real short story.

Maybe that’s one the most impressive qualities of art: makes your mind wander, makes you imagine and consider things you normally wouldn’t.

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38 thoughts on “Hemingway’s six word short story

  1. Not only is it one of the most impressive qualities about Art, Cristian (with which I wholeheartedly agree), it is the sign of TRUE art, the ability to take a grain of thought and force one to build an entire beach with one's imagination. Great post!

  2. i really like that too…. not sure if Hemingway wrote it or not, but it does set my mind a reeling, for sure…. thank you for sharing!!

  3. Hi Cristian, I don't know if you have ever heard of flash fiction or not. It is basically something that is as small or smaller than a paragraph or two. I wrote one for a contest. There is an art to putting together a story in as few words possible.

    • My definition of flash fiction is less than 300 words. That's something I can work with, even though I'd need about 500 words to write something that reads like a story. I've got quite a few really short stuff on Smashwords. "One" was really fun to write.

  4. I love the one he did. It's truly perfect. I like doing these types of writing exercises. I made a six word story a few days ago that went: Surrounded by zombies without any ammo. It's not nearly as good as baby shoes but it's a start at least. ;)

  5. Cristian: I know it's heresy these days but I have to say, Hemingway's influence has been responsible for more bad writing than just about any other writer. People assume that his stripped-down prose is easy to write: wrong! In the hands of a lesser writer it merely becomes bland and lacks evocative power. I wish our modern writing culture, i.e. the creative writing faculties, would finally get over Hemingway! How about a return to eloquence?

  6. I used to have a paperback named 'The Writer's Block' which had a little note or picture like this on each page that might prompt an idea for a story. Thanks for sharing, I've never seen this before – it got me thinking too.

  7. My former college English professor explained that whole thing in class one time and that was the first things I actually got from Hemmingway. This is a classic tale to tell anyone pursuing a literary career.

    In fact, my professor, who's also the published author Michael Downs, found the story online with a quote reading: "For sale, Hemmingway book, never read." :)

  8. I also read about Hemingway's amazing 6-word story, in a writer's magazine that challenged readers to create a 6-word story. My two best attempts were: "It turned out not to matter" and "Evidence suggested three survived the crash." Neither one as good as the model, though. Another friend had an intriguing one: "The bride clutched a faded letter." It is difficult, but it's a great exercise in packing a lot into a few words!

  9. I didn't know that Hemingway sentence, thanks for introducing me to it. In return, here is my own all-time favourite single sentence by an author — in this case, Gabriel Garcia Marquez' first sentence for "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (translation, Gregory Rabassa): "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." When I first read that, my brain exploded: firing squad? discover ice? And I was hooked. Perhaps some day you will do a post that celebrates great first sentences for novels! I nominate this one.

  10. Just found my response to this post and realised what I wrote – next time I'll think before putting finger to keyboard. I took the title at face value without reading into it. I said "never" but hadn't even seen it, instead of saying "haven't". So yes, the stupid sticks and great post.

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