Fleeting magazine (Now Fleeting Books, see note below), publisher of made-ya-think fiction, poetry, and "X Questions for ____" interviews with Interesting People, ran a Hemingway-inspired six-word short story contest this summer.
Almost 5,000 entries poured in. On a whim, I sent in what is essentially the six-word pitch for a short story I was thinking of tinkering with but didn't have the time to really flesh out because client work kept calling my name while stamping its feet. I hate when it does that.
Conversely, perhaps this means I should delve into the idea deeper and see how rich the story ore is.
Odd, how I never do this kind of vascillating with client projects. Maybe it's that dratted foot stamping that keeps my focus sure.)
The shortlist entries are worth a read. They're all quite individual. Some rely on witty banter. Some on nuance. Some on subtext. Active verbs do their thang. Linking, passive verbs are nowhere to be seen. (Huh. Irony. ::wink, wink; nudge, nudge::) It's fascinating how, when offered unlimited words from which to choose, with a mandate only to reduce word count, each author's unique voice shines through in just six strokes.
I wonder if there is a tipping point where voice would be lost. Five words? Three words? Two? I suspect if one had to tell a "story" in just one word, the word chosen would speak volumes -- if only about the one who chose it.
Congratulations to my fellow finalists. It is an honor to be in your company.
Have a six-word story? Share it below!
*** Update: Imagine my surprise after writing & posting this to receive a note from the lovely contest Grand Poobahs informing me that I had won! I was sitting in Panera, sipping an overly-acidic cup of coffee & chowing down on a chocolate babka when I read the e-mail. "Holy Cow!" I said aloud, though I was alone. Other patrons immediately gave me a wider berth. Anyway, it's always nice to hear one has won something. Here's the official version of the story from Fleeting. A.H.
****Update, October, 2013: Fleeting Magazine is officially now "Fleeting Books," a literary consultancy. See Editorial Assistant Charlotte Seymour's comment below. Here's wishing them all the best!