Tell a Story in One Sentence

Say it All
in Six Words

‘For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.’ This Ernest Hemingway-credited ‘novel’ is arguably the best known example of how entire lives can be distilled into only six words. If ‘brevity is the soul of wit,’ to quote Bill Shakespeare, then this is probably how it’s done.
The concept’s also a suitable match to our age’s short-span attention, managing to beat Twitter at its own game, fit easily in a tiny phone screen, all the while delivering a potential knockout. Papa was on to something, and his story is as moving now as it was then.
The current revival that the concept enjoys nowadays can be attributed to Larry Smith, who launched the Six-Word Memoir Project in 2006. Few would’ve expected that the Website would be now home to over a million six-word sentences, by thousands of people, celebrities or not.
The latter includes yours truly, whose literary concoctions found their way into Six Words About Work, published in 2009, and Best Advice in Six Words, coming out this week (yes, it’s a plug). Both books are part of a growing collection edited by the Smith mag team. Hooray.
Thus we decided to show you some of our own contributions, gathered here in a sort of chaotic way, for your enjoyment. It’s also our humble way of thanking the good people of the Six-Word Memoir community, who obviously could’ve done just fine without our input. Still, we’re proud.
There’s something about the format. Not as complex as a Haiku, or functional as the 5-word limit Ig Nobel Award recipients are bound to keep on their thank you speeches, six words are perfect to strike a balance of just enough info and emotion, convey background, and leave much to be guessed.
None of these is at par with Papa‘s, mind you. Or Bill, for goodness sake. But they’re fun to compose and, honestly, addictive. You should try it sometime. Thousands have. What if you have just the perfect idea about what happened to those shoes? Cheers.



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