Can you express a story in 6 words? Or less? If you’ve practiced and mastered writing 50 word short stories like “They Call Him the Philosopher,” you might be ready for the 6 word short story writing prompt challenge.
An Advanced Writing Prompt:
The Challenge of the Six Word Short Story
Pregaming the 6 Word Short Story
*cough* I mean, “prepping for,” not “pregaming.” *cough*
If you’re not quite ready for the 6 word short story (for example, if you’re like me, and writing short stories isn’t your best skill), then, here are a few thoughts for how to pregame. *cough* prep.
- “Spice Up Your Writing“ is good for reviewing imagery techniques.
- “How to Put Your Readers in the Mood“ might help because mood is all about manipulating emotions, and emotions are a big part of communicating in fewer words.
- “Poetry Writing Prompt for Free Verse“ is good practice for expressing meaning figuratively instead of literally.
- “Four Articles About How to Write a Good Short Story“ gives you 4 articles with tips for writing good short stories (articles by other people, by the way – not me, the person who’s not so fabulous at writing short stories)
- “50 Word Short Stories: Another Way to Challenge Yourself“ helps you scale down if you’re used to writing longer stories. If you’re used to writing, say, novels, you can start with regular short stories. Then, cut it down to 100 words, 50 words, and so on. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
Read up and practice all of these, and you’ll (theoretically) have all the skills you need for the big game.
The 6 Word Short Story
Are you ready to rumble????
Hey! That’s almost a 5 word short story! You know, because we have so many connotations with the phrase that it implies some sort of a match! (I told you I’m not very good at this…)
Seriously, though, if you’re ready to challenge yourself by writing six word short stories, here is the best advice I can give you:
Think abstract painting – imagery and association are everything.
You basically want to say as much as you can with the fewest number of words. To do that, you have to imply the story instead of stating it explicitly. You have to raise questions in the readers mind, but you also have to make the implications strong enough that they don’t question the existence of the story. They have to be certain that something happened even if they’re not sure exactly what or how. (Here’s one of the most famous 6 word stories ever along with its history to give you an idea.)
So… um… how, exactly, are we supposed to do that?
What Good 6 Word Short Stories Do (or Don’t Do)
Now, having admitted how average-to-poor I am at writing these, you may not be interested in any tips I have (Really. Why are you still reading?). But just because I can’t do something well, doesn’t mean I can’t recognize good 6 word short stories. Or can’t break down what they have in common.
- Avoid filler words, especially articles and prepositions. Even though articles are usually important (prepositions, too), here, they take up too much room and do too little.
- Don’t use complete sentences. You ain’t got time for that. Or space.
- Correct punctuation is optional. Yes, it’s opposite day. You’re going to ignore most of the rules in “Top 5 Grammar Rules Not to Break.” The fact is that sometimes, correct punctuation will help you join the thoughts of your fragment(s), but if you’re not writing in complete sentences, correct punctuation isn’t always possible.
- Try different iterations. It’s 6 words. If you can’t write at least 10 drafts to try out different ways to express your idea or situation, you’re just being lazy. Seriously, people.
- Pick powerful moments. Brushing your teeth in 6 words or less isn’t much of a story. It needs to be an emotional, high-stakes moment.
- Practice with “A Writing Prompt for the Worst Time of Your Life,” but instead of starting after that worst time, summarize it. Try to express how it felt, how it affected you, in 6 words. It’s not gonna be easy, but if you manage it, you’ll have mastered the 6 word short story writing prompt challenge.
That’s all I got, but it’s a starting point. And if you manage to do all of these while keeping in mind the implication you’re going for, you have a good chance of writing a good 6 word short story. Heck, if you manage the last one, you’ll have a great six word short story.
So whaddya think? Got any tips for other writers trying to write 6 word short stories? What works best for you?