#6Words · 9 August 2014

Six little words. Count them. Six.

Six words (#6words) is a writing challenge that author and entrepreneur, Kelsye Nelson, puts out to the world on a regular basis. “In six words or fewer, write a story about…” is her prompt and challenge to writers. It is a tough challenge, but one that should be taken seriously.

But can a story really be told in six words or less?

That depends on the writer.

And the reader.

An author friend of mine, Bernadette Pajer, talks about triggers. Good authors try to evoke triggers with their words. The smell of baking break conjures up memories of Grandma’s house and bakeries for me. And just like the real aroma brings up the images, so too should the words. That is the key to writing a six-word story. Bringing up images.

The thing is that the images do not need to be the same for every reader. The aroma of baking bread might bring up other images to other people, but usually, those images are of comfort and safety. They are of loving and caring. They are of being around the people who matter most. That is what story telling is all about. Not everybody needs to see the same picture to get the most out of a story. They just need to see and experience the story in their minds. And if the story that the next person experiences is a little different, that is okay. Which is why I like the challenge of the impossibly short story.

Six words.

So far, I have taken the challenge of writing stories in six words or less a few times. One, was a cheat, but I still think I told the story and evoked some images. The others were good kick starts to my writing day. They helped me to get the creative juices flowing. (And of course, they all led to writing this current piece of prose.)

Here are the stories:

Who me?
Blank page. Should be writing.
DISCIPLINE: No muse necessary.
I just need faith to see.
I did it my way.

These stories came from specific prompts, and when I first thought of writing this piece, I thought that people ought to guess what those prompts were. But as I thought about it more, I came to the realization that like any other story, these six-word stories ought to stand alone. They ought to make somebody laugh or cry or have some sort of emotion. With or without knowing the prompt.

I believe these stories do that. Even though they are short, they evoke some sort of emotion from and create images for the reader. Those emotions and images are certainly not the same for any two readers, but they are created. How well the story is written is determined by how strong the emotions and images are for the reader.

Maybe I am over analyzing the whole #6words story thing, but it is a fun exercise. It is a great kick starter for writers to mull over six little words to create a story.

By the way, the prompts (in order) were:

In six words or fewer, write a story about a lie you told.
In six words or fewer, write a story about what you see right now.
In six words or fewer, write a story about an artist’s muse.
In six words or fewer, write a story about the one thing you can’t live without.
In six words or fewer, write a story about a regret you have had.

Knowing the prompts probably changes the stories for most readers, but that is okay too. After all, it means you get two stories for the price of one.

Thank you Kelsye Nelson (@Kelsye) for the prompts on your website and in your tweets. They might be frustrating at times, but they are certainly inspiring and fun. (As are the responses you get to them.) Like you said, “It’s like playtime. Good for the creative soul.”

I for one will keep writing the six-word stories. (And longer ones.)

By the way, if you did not notice or were not keeping track, the first line of this post is one of those six-word stories (albeit not a great one). I even did it without a prompt.

Six little words. Count them. Six.

© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi

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