James Borda Writer, Game and Interaction Designer

6-word Stories

This was a challenge I really enjoyed, because the format forced me to think hard about what constitutes a story. I felt that my attempts fell into three categories: 1. descriptions which are not actually stories; 2. descriptions which strongly indicate a back story, but do not contain any action in themselves (Hemingway’s classic “For Sale: Baby shoes, never used” falls in this category); and 3. full stories in which there is an actual event and reversal. Here are some of each:

Category 1:

The taxi disgorged its clown posse.

On Fifth Avenue rich guys vomit.

Ben Franklin grinned between my fingers.

Category 2:

The war made me like this.

We’re running out of handcuffs, Captain!

Welcome to McDonalds! Fuck off! Die!

Category 3:

“Push harder,” he said. She didn’t.

Wrong address. I went in anyway.

Death came for everyone but Sarah.

I’m equating story with event, following Aristotle and Robert McKee. I found category 3 the hardest to write. You can get a pretty juicy description in 6 words, but for there to be a true event requires a set up and reversal, giving you about 3 words for each. Very difficult!


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Posted: February 6, 2013


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