Monday, January 14, 2008

Six word stories.

A friend of mine just joined a facebook group called "Six word stories" that challenges people to write true stories in six words.

Hemingway was asked to write a story in six words (though I don't think the truth requirement was there) and came up with: "For sale: Baby shoes. Never used."

Margaret Atwood's response was "Longed for him. Got him. Shit."

So far this A.M. the stories I've come up with are:

True of me:

"Incompetant as secretary; lawyer results pending."
"How 'bout it?" + "ok" = Gen-X Engagement
Junior High Memories make Universalism difficult.
ChaliceMom's accident sees life as lagniappe.
Kindergartner campaigns for younger siblings; regrets.
Functional adulthood is the best revenge.

Six word challenge reveals latent OCD.

Fictional, but interesting:
In Case of Emergency, contact: Nobody

I will add more as think of them.

who got
"Jump into the bathtub,"


Dumb kid.

Down to seven words, but no fewer.

Ps. More on the candidates tonight.

Pps. Please see the comments, where Jeff W. compares what I wrote to what Margaret Atwood and Ernest Hemingway wrote. True, I come up lacking, but that's still the nicest compliment my writing has gotten in awhile.


Anonymous said...

CC, just a nitpick that might or might not be relevant, but could help clarify this whole six-word story thing. I notice that in Hemingway and Atwood's examples, they wrote several very short sentences. Especially in Atwood's case, you have the opening, middle, and conclusion of a story. Thus these two writers seem to have understood that the point of the exercise was to create actual stories with a narrative thrust and only six words (Hemingway's does implicitly--you understand that baby shoes were bought in anticipation, an event occurred or maybe didn't occur, and therefore, sadly, the baby shoes are unnecessary).

By contrast, I think your initial stories tend to read more like extremely short personals ads or proverbs. For instance, "Incompetant as secretary; lawyer results pending," "Functional adulthood is the best revenge," etc. These are certainly amusing but there's not a lot of narrative thrust here, though some come closer to others. And they have a kind of unintentional fortune-cookie quality since they tend to be terse single sentences rather than several sentences that build and change the narrative.

Just something to think about. Yes, obviously, I am an author and overthink exercises like this. By the way, am I the only one who thinks this is pretty close to an exercise in haiku?

By the way, how does this work:

"Jump on in!" WHAM! Dumb kid.

or possibly

"Jump in there." WHAM! Stupid kid.

or, if the tub is truly necessary:

"Jump in the tub!" WHAM! Moron.

Chalicechick said...

I see your point about the narrative thrust on the other ones and will work on better examples.

That said, I don't think your examples, all of which leave out either that the speaker is talking about a bathtub or that the jumper is a little kid, get across the thrust of what happened.

The first two bring to mind, say, an empty swimming pool.

I think the third one might be ok as:

"Jump in the tub!" WHAM! Literalists...

but I still like the jumper's childhood being in there as it makes it clear that it was an honest mistake on both parties' parts.


Anonymous said...

Why would anyone jump into a tub?

Chalicechick said...

Because I was three or four, my mom said "Jump in the tub" as an informal expression meaning "get into the tub" and I took her literally and tried to do it.


Anonymous said...

Just goes to show you that I'd make a lousy ghostwriter.

Glad my first comments didn't come off patronizing, I was intrigued by the exercise and trying to work through its logic a little more exactly.

Another attempt:

"Jump in the tub." WHAM! Childhood. . .

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Comrade Kevin said...

There's a blog out called "Six Sentences" as well, which takes submissions. *hint hint* As you might expect, instead of six words, though, you're asked to write something pertinent in six sentences.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, now I get it. As in "I ran out the door and jumped in the car." I took your story literally, and that was puzzling. It's not as if tubs are bouncy like sofas.