“For sale: baby shoes, never worn” read the handout in my short fiction creative writing MA class at the University of East Anglia.
It’s a famous six-word story, often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, though it’s not entirely clear he wrote it.
Whoever did was a master of flash fiction. There are many worlds in that one short sentence. It suggests many emotions, events and experiences.
Who placed that advert? A heartbroken nearly-mother? An impecunious almost-father? What pain lies in the two words “never worn”?
The six-word story can truly be a magnificent thing.
David Leonhardt of the New York Times recently asked readers to send in their six-word take for Thanksgiving. Write about what you’re grateful for, he suggested, building on magazine editor Larry Smith’s bestselling six-word memoir series.
This Thanksgiving, I’m busy thinking of my six thankful words. Try it.