half a dozen words, redux

Remember Hemingway’s famous (or infamous) short-short-short story?

For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

We had a back and forth about this some time ago. I don’t particularly like Hemingway’s baby shoe story, which strikes me as maudlin and manipulative. However, I do think that writing this kind of thing is good as an exercise for limbering up the writing mind. I don’t have much success with it myself, but other people seem to really get a lot out of it. Which is one of the cardinal rules of writing: if it works for you, it works. That is, don’t argue with the muse. You know she’ll make you sorry if you do.

Charlotte sent me a link to Carolyn Kellogg’s LA Time weblog on this subject, which led me to Smith Magazine, a festival of six-word-long stories:

SMITH is the home of Six-Word Memoirs and a vibrant community of storytellers. Explore story projects, write your story & share it with friends.

[asa book]0061714623[/asa] The website is chock full of writing prompts.  You could, if you like, submit your six cents on everything from heartbreak to shirts. Even if you don’t care to jump in,  it’s  a good place to dig around in for ideas. And then, of course, there are t-shirts.

Larry Smith seems to be the mind behind the website, and he has coauthored (with Rachel Fershleiser) two books on this subject, most recently Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure. One example:

I loved the idea of you. — Audrey Adu-Appiah

Exactly how I feel about these six-word stories.