Can you tell a story in six words? This super-short storytelling has a history dating back to Ernest Hemmingway when he shared the following with a friend:
For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
iO9 has a couple of super-short science fiction writing contests here, and here. This got me thinking about how to tell a story in six words. You see it many times in newspaper and magazine headlines. The story needs to pull you in so that you buy their product – their product being both a magazine and a message. If you buy their message, you will most likely come back. You become their audience.
So how do you build an audience in six words? You find common beliefs that allow you to use shorthand to tell your story. You find double-meanings in words that give you more mileage. And you find a way to look at events or attitudes that allow people to think they know what is happening, and then surprise them.
The power of each word is multiplied when you can only use six of them. Here are three of my favorites from my six-word sci-fi brainstorming session:
- Substitute time traveler wanted. Provide references.
- Successfully removed cancerous microchip. Now lonely.
- Vegetable uprising. Time travel. Primordial soup.
I thought even further – could this work for Oz stories?
Given only the limit of six words to tell an Oz story, can you do it? Can you rely on your audience’s understanding of Oz to share an entire story in scarcely a handful of words? I’m going to give it a try.
- Silver slippers returned to the dust.
- Giant robot destroys tribe. Survivor cowardly.
- Powder of life activates Tiktok’s heart.
- Teenage Glinda battles two Wicked Witches.
- Lonely Wizard dreams monsters for Witch.
- Yellow Brick Road guided hopeful slaves.
- Young Locasta hides from apprenticeship. Found.
Some of these may be actual story ideas for The Hidden History of Oz series. Time will tell. Distilling the essence of a story down to six words is quite an interesting exercise.
Why don’t you give it a try? In the comments below, leave your six-word Oz story.