24 August 2011

Six Word Stories: Guest Post by Mike Roselli

About a week ago, I remembered a story I was told in a fiction class I took at NC State. Jessica is a friend of mine, and the topic of this particular fiction seemed like it would interest her, so closely related to poetry in it's creation. I asked if I could guest blog here and share a few writings with her and her readers, so here I am!

Our story begins at the Algonquin in Manhattan, NY. Ernest Hemmingway is having lunch with other writers one afternoon at the famous Round Table. He tells them he can write a short story in just six words. Not just a six-word sentenance, but a story with a beginning, middle, and end. A story with real characters and a plot. A story that can evoke emotion from a reader. The other writers laugh, so Hemmingway tells them to ante up ten bucks a piece; if he's wrong, he'll match their money, but if he's right, the pot is his. He wrote the following six words on a napkin, passed it around, and took home the cash:

  • "For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn." - Ernest Hemmingway

Many writer's since then have taken the six-word Hemmingway challenge. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • "Gown removed carelessly. Head less so." - Joss Whedon
  • "It's behind you! Hurry before it" - Rockne S. O'Bannon
  • "Please, this is everything, I swear." - Orson Scott Card
It's harder than it looks. In many cases, writing a six-word story feels like poetry, which is why I wanted to post it on Jessica's poetry blog. Careful diction, punctuation, word tense, and even upper or lower case letters can all evoke emotion and add subtle hints on characters and plot, while minimizing words at the same time. Often, its the words you do not use that leave the biggest impact.

Here are a few I've played with over the past week. A few were inspired by other works in culture that I am fond of. Some are funny, some are serious, and some are sad. Some don't have a beginning, middle and end, but are entertaining none the less:
  • "CONFIRMD: Time Travel cannot fix typos."
  • "Colleagues discovered deadly neurotoxin. Take credit?"
  • "Writer for hire: Understands brevity now!"
  • "I promise, this investment is different."
  • "Write this down: 'Find new secretary'."
I'd like to challenge Jessica to give it a try and write a few, or to toy with the idea and it's mechanics in her poetry. I'd also like to propose the challenge to her readers. Give it a shot in the comments section!

-Mike Roselli is a graduate of the NC State Civil Engineering department. His writings about engineering can be seen on his blog at mikeroselli.net, though he bums his most creative work on other people's webpages.

1 comment:

  1. I'm putting together a few six words and a few ten words for tomorrow's post as a reply to Mike's guest post. If anybody wants to go ahead and give it a shot, have at it.