When you have limited space for your words, you choose those words very carefully. I learned that lesson well when I was working as a reporter for the weekly newspaper The Forest Park Review. Each week, I was given a newspaper page plan with allotted space for my stories — space that was, for the most part, set in stone. I learned to condense my thoughts into 500- to 750-word stories without compromising the content.
Ernest Hemingway set a much higher (or lower, depending on how you look at it) bar for word precision with this famous six-word story.
In a half-dozen words, Hemingway conveyed a grief and emptiness that are all the more profound and affecting because of how short the story is.
I came across the six-word story concept recently while toodling around the Internet. Apparently, it became quite the sensation on Tumblr and reddit awhile ago. (I’m a little behind the times, I know.) I recommend doing a Google image search for “six-word story” — it’ll make you smile, laugh, think, and sigh, all in a few seconds’ time.
Here is my own attempt at a six-word story. Note that I am not a fiction writer. This is an autobiographical piece based on something that happened to me this past summer.
Manhattan morning stroll:
sandals, pigeon diarrhea.