Can you tell a story in six words?

Good ideas for writers sometimes strike like lightning.
Good ideas for writers sometimes strike like lightning.


I read from time to time about flash fiction. I still don’t know exactly what it is. But I do know that it has something to do with brevity, and I’m all about brevity in the writing world.

Short sentences.

Short paragraphs.

Short chapters.

Short books.

When talking about readers, these two things are becoming clearer.

Attention spans are short.

Patience is short.

So my philosophy when writing fiction is quite simple.

Get in to the story.

Get on with the story.

Get the story over with, even if you have to end in a preposition.

I recently stumbled across examples of six-word stories. I’m sure everyone else knows about them.

I didn’t. All I know is that Hemingway started it all with a six-word story that, he said, was the saddest story he ever wrote:

Baby Shoes. For Sale. Never worn.

The imagery is heartbreaking.

The six-word stories I found were pretty good:

Tanline on his ring finger? Goodbye.

One candle, unattended. Only ashes remain.

I leave. Dog panics. Furniture shopping.

212. Human ignorance boiled the earth.

Last two people on earth. Gay.

Late. Speeding. Pulled over. Really late.

Home late. Doors locked. I’m caught.

Misleading deep puddle. Curious child missing.

Artificial limb, bungie jump – bad idea.

Writing a story in six words is an intriguing idea. It triggers the imagination. It twists the mind. It’s a good way to tease the brain and sometimes wake it up.

I thought I’d give six-word stories a try:

Fast cars. Fast women. Funeral tomorrow.

Love at first sight. Heart broken.

Wrong place. Wrong time. Prayers unheard.

I do. I don’t. Attorney richer.

First shot. Second shot not needed.

Promises made. Promises kept. Love remains.

Came home. Home empty. No goodbye.

She left. I’m alone. Whiskey sour.

Don’t kill me. I’m already dead.

Hot woman. Hot sex. Hot damn.

Man sheds clothes. Faces naked truth.

Forgive me. I’ve sinned. Door slams.

Back seat. Forbidden love. Baby shower.

There’s one thing about six-word stories. They may or may not tell a very good story or even much of story. But they would be a damn good way to open a novel.

We all have a few six-word stories in us, and they’re more fun to write than you might think.

So why don’t you give us the best ones that are crawling out of the basement of your minds.

Secrets of the Dead coverPlease click the book cover to read more about my novels on Amazon. I don’t think there is a six-word story in them. But there should have been.

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  • David Atkinson

    Interesting idea. Causing pause for thought.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Anyone who write haiku can write a story in six words. Let’s see yours.

      • David Atkinson

        Too kind. Misplaced trust. Disappointing outcome.

  • Roger Summers

    Stop dawdling. Finish novel. Feel good.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      No time to dawdle. Words keep coming.

  • Roger Summers

    Business trip. Flirty gal. Divorce court.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Wife cries. Attorneys plot. Husband broke.

  • Roger Summers

    Pants down. Door opens. Bang, bang!

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Husband dead. Wife sad. Undertaker glad.

  • jack43

    Fun. Fun. Fun Worry! Worry! Worry! (The story is in the punctuation)

    • Caleb Pirtle

      No fun. Getting caught. Should worry.

  • Roger Summers

    Drink. Drink. Drunk. Drive. Cops. Jail.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Can’t walk straight line. Hung over.

  • Darlene Jones

    Yours are funny!

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Darlene Jones. You made my day.

  • Roger Summers

    Husband cheats. Wife leaves. C/W song.

  • msl_007

    Your rebuttals to these comments are spot on. Ha!

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Thanks a lot. Come back again.

  • moondustwriter

    I like the idea of a 6 word opener.
    kisses erupt dawn love bathes morning (a shortened version of haiku )

    • Caleb Pirtle

      When they’re as good as yours, I like six-word openings myself.

  • Caleb, your 6-word stories are hilarious! Maybe you should write a satirical novel, comedy, in short, you’re the 6-word Oscar Wilde!

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Wrote comedy. Die laughing? Just died.

  • Robyn

    my kids, my animals, my world

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Right mix. Your world is wonderful.

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