Writing Exercises: Six Word Memoir

six word imageSmith Magazine’s “Say it in Six” site forces the short, sharp writing muscles into action.

The Six-Word Memoir reminds me of how headlines are created in a newsroom. But this is far more fun and much more useful to the writer. To be clear, this is writing distilled to six perfect words.

Double entendres, advice and cheekiness prevail. Learning to be succinct is key. Some entries are good enough to begin a poem, open a novel or become a viral tweet.

The online storytelling magazine took its cue from Ernest Hemingway. Challenged to write a short story in six words, he came up with “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Six words are plenty, even if at first it’s tough. The exercise instantly helped me boil down and re-focus a few potential writing themes that badly rambled.

  • My mother fixated on prehistoric birds (memoir)
  • Tent revivals are leaps of faith (narrative non fiction)
  • Bobber fishing in a trout creek (short story)

While still inelegant, those six-word themes now could go onto the title pages of draft story boards, condensed for clear thinking about their development at least.

I still like best the advice to writers that John King, a U.K coach and editor posted on the site.

Something to say?