A story in six words? Madness

typed for your pleasure on 27 October 2006, at 2.56 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Watch that man’ by David Bowie

Anyone can write a story. Not everyone can write a good story, though. And not every one of those everyones can write a good story using only six words. Calling these writers ‘adept’ is being far too verbose, so I’ll just call them ‘a’.
I’m reminded of the Shakespeare quote ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’, and the faster, better version, ‘Brevity is wit.’
(Airlifted from Penda’s Diner)

Very Short Stories
wired.com | Issue 14.11 – November 2006

We’ll be brief: Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words (“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”) and is said to have called it his best work. So we asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to take a shot themselves.

Dozens of our favorite auteurs put their words to paper, and five master graphic designers took them to the drawing board. Sure, Arthur C. Clarke refused to trim his (“God said, ‘Cancel Program GENESIS.’ The universe ceased to exist.”), but the rest are concise masterpieces. (edited for space)

Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?
– Eileen Gunn

Vacuum collision. Orbits diverge. Farewell, love.
– David Brin

Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.
– Joss Whedon

Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
– Alan Moore

Epitaph: Foolish humans, never escaped Earth.
– Vernor Vinge

It cost too much, staying human.
– Bruce Sterling

We kissed. She melted. Mop please!
– James Patrick Kelly

It’s behind you! Hurry before it
– Rockne S. O’Bannon

I came up with a handful whilst at work today; most of them were shite. I found that a number of what I’d written were almost epigrams; one was ‘The Rolling Stones — still alive. Why?’ — that’s not a story. Funny yes, but not a story. It’s almost harder than haiku!

+ Falling, he regretted nothing. Except breakfast.

+ Angry bears with hatchets; hilarity ensues.

+ A singularity? That’s impossible! OH SHI–

+ The cats knew, and fled first.

+ Anneke’s exposed mechanisms gave her away.

+ The Liston knife — Jack’s favourite tool.

+ In battle: ‘I forgot my pistol?!’

+ ‘You’re my Doppelgänger?’ ‘Yes, now die.’

and my personal fave:

+ This sandwich tastes funny. Like… flesh?

If any brave souls care to try their hand, go for it and leave your results in the comments. Mindbending but fun!

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

An improvement on the Gravity gun on July 29th, 2006

'From up here, they look like ants... oh wait, those really are ants.' on April 8th, 2009

8 have spoken to “A story in six words? Madness”

  1. quaisi writes:

    Regretted: Syringe and twice monthly defecation.

  2. SafeTinspector writes:

    Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.
    Oh, Joss, why are you godly?
    (that wasn’t my entry, though it clocked in with the requisite word count.)

    Hmm… lessee…

    But I was immune! Wasn’t I?

    But now I had no mouthwash.

    What color was the safe one?

    Odo says, ‘off with the metatarsal!’

    Pants off, the hat still worked.

    My deflator wallet transcended this bakery.

    But oh, what a cell phone!

  3. Davecat writes:

    Brilliant work, lads. 🙂

  4. melissa ann straney writes:

    hey dcat… here are my attempts at the 6 word thingee:

    the sky was fire and drowned.

    a torn dress dusty with crickets.

    she stood up when it came.

    quiet things sang in the end.

    nothing now but watch it go.

  5. Davecat writes:

    Melle Mel –
    your consecutive tales remind me of ‘Little House on the Prairie’. AFTER THE APOCALYPSE.

    Well done!

  6. SafeTinspector writes:

    Large women on amigos can’t cook.

  7. Jeff "Wolfgang" Lilly writes:

    Her lap. My vomit. Bad date.

  8. Davecat writes:

    Wolfgang’s story brevity made me chuckle.


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