Have you ever tried to write a six word story? I learned about a website called Six Word Stories.net via my friend and flash fiction aficionado, Josh Mosey. The editors of this site post a new six word story every day. Readers can submit their own. I decided to take a stab at it tonight. It’s a good exercise. Tell me which story you think I should submit to the site.
- New library book. Strange story. Returned.
- Didn’t exercise last weekend. Behind again.
- He said “love.” She said “like.”
- Almost a winner. Trying to smile.
- Grabbed the gun. “You’ll regret that.”
- At home again. She wept gratefully.
Writing six word stories forces you to be extremely picky about your word choice. You don’t have the space to be even remotely verbose. (For example, there are no room for adverbs like “extremely” or “remotely.”) As I wrote the above stories I found myself contemplating every word, especially the pronouns. Because the pronoun might be the only descriptor given of the character in the story I wanted to be careful about which ones I used. I tried to give every sentence as much resonance with as large an audience as possible.
For example, on my first draft of #5 I wrote “Grabbed his gun. ‘You’ll regret that.”’ I took out “his” so as not to limit the reader. Perhaps it will be more powerful for some to imagine a woman saying “you’ll regret that”. Who knows.
In #6 I left in “she” because I think the image of a woman weeping gratefully might have more power than a man weeping gratefully. First of all, it’s likely more easy for most people to visualize a woman weeping than a man. And it also begs the question, why is she weeping? Was she kidnapped? Did one of her kids go missing? Was her baby taken? Did she escape from horrible evil? I think all of those questions are more likely to come to readers’ minds if the character is a “she” rather than a “he.” (Note: I’m not trying to make any sort of statement about gender roles with these comments. I’m just trying to play off of what I think most readers’ likely response to the story will be.)
I left the pronouns in #3 for obvious reasons. Every reader understands the age-old uncertainties between men and women in romantic relationships.
So is there a story here that stands out among the others? Let me know and I’ll submit it to Six Word Stories.net. Give this exercise a try. It’s a fun way to stretch your writing muscles.