Six Word Stories cover all the genres: horror, sci-fi, romance, mystery. They can be poetry, memoirs, jokes or just stories. The stories can bring suspense, or drama, or intrigue, or amusement. A 6 word story is a nourishing bite of narrative for all readers.
In this post, I share ten examples of the Six Word Story literary form, using some of the best stories found on Reddit.
Use all your six words
A six word story is not a place for glue words. Use every character and syllable you are given to bring power to your words.
Sticks. Spears. Swords. Guns. Nukes. Sticks. from r/sixwordstories
Here, we get a whole story from beginning to end, an escalation that we recognise from history. The final word reminds us that history repeats, and things can easily get out of hand.
Be clever with your sentence construction.
You don’t need to write one long sentence to write a six word wonder. Think if a change of order, or breaking a couple of grammar rules might bring a bigger impact.
loop! Help, I’m trapped in a from r/sixwordstories
In this example, we find ourselves trapped in our own loops, reading the story over and over again looking for a way out of the the words.
Build on previous six word stories
Everyone (surely) must have read the alleged Hemingway classic – For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never worn. If not, I’ve written a whole article on that six word wonder.
Once that story is in your DNA, there is joy from finding other stories that riff off the idea, like six word jazz, playing with the structure of the story to generate new surprises. Here’s a great example.
Clarification: Baby shoes were wrong color. from r/sixwordstories
Make your reader read twice
He bottle-feeds his wife’s killer. from r/sixwordstories
It takes two reads to understand what’s happening here. But when you understand the full ramifications and tragedy of the story, the emotional impact hits you hard.
Thankfully, at only six words, it’s not a chore to read through twice.
Play with your 6 word story presentation
██ ███ trust ███ ███ ██████ the government, ██ ██ █ ████ █████ everything ██████ ██ is █████ ███ ██████ █ ███ fine ███ ██████. from r/sixwordstories
In this fascinating example of how to use formatting to create an incredible six word story, we see all but six words redacted from a longer statement.
trust… the… government,… everything… is… fine…
We already have the makings of a political thriller. You can’t help but be tempted to start filling in the blanks. Does the true opening begin “Do not trust anything said by the government” perhaps?
Some might argue that the format here means it is not a true six word story. But when I check it with the six word wonder tips, it meets all the criteria. You are allowed, in fact, encouraged to use punctuation to make your story work.
.-.. — … .. -. –. .- .-.. – .. – ..- -.. . .-.. .- … – .-.. .- -. -.. … . . -. …- .- -. ..- .- – ..- from r/sixwordstories
Or how about using morse code? This one reads “LOSINGALTITUDELASTLANDSEENVANUATU”
Readers read. They understand the structure of story in their bones. Your 6 word story can play with their understanding. So, we know that many chapters and TV shows end on a cliffhanger. So why not, play with that idea.
I just wrote a great cliffhanger. from r/sixwordstories
In this story, the cliff hanger is the cliff hanger! What a fantastic literary trick to be played on the reader.
Don’t be afraid to write dark worlds
Many six word stories work best when looking at the darker side of the human condition. And why not, fiction is about conflict and you’ll find few novels without a tragedy or murder.
We all die. You, just sooner. from r/sixwordstories
In six words, you can imagine how this bad news might be received.
The smallest coffins are the heaviest. from r/sixwordstories
And here, the tragedy of who might be in the smallest coffin is suffocating.
And don’t forget dark humour
The format lends itself to humour because the story format is are so similar to a joke. Combining darkness and comedy can reap some really rich rewards.
Died a virgin, wasn’t buried one. from r/sixwordstories
So is this comedy or tragedy? Probably a combination of both.
“Oedipus!” “I’m coming Mother!” “Damn, already?” from r/sixwordstories
And this one will touch all those greek history buffs.
Add a touch of romance
Six word memoirs give an insight into a person’s mind. And their thoughts are often directed at sad romance.
I look for you in everyone. from r/sixwordstories
This passage is beautiful because the narrator is in love but has lost their love, and wants it back. Did the other person leave them, or die? Or were they only imagined. We don’t know. But we do know the narrator won’t rest until you are found.
“Wrong number,” says a familiar voice. from r/sixwordstories
Some writers forget that they are welcome to include dialogue in their stories. Ever read a book without a conversations. Probably not because dialogue is one of the best was to show, rather than tell.
Adding dialogue into a 6 word memoir or story really helps the reader leap into the narrator’s head.
“I’m faking Alzheimers.” said Granddad. Again. from r/sixwordstories
Use mirroring language
Six Word Wonders are poetry a their heart because they use a standard word form to communicate an idea or story.
Lean into the poetry by finding clever mirroring effects.
He came early. Now she’s late. from r/sixwordstories
In this story, “early” mirrors “late”. Three word sentences. And a brilliant twist, when we realised what “He came early.” really means.
Tell a joke
A witty or even awkward pun can elevate a six word story.
RIP boiled water… you’ll be mist. from r/sixwordstories
This story illustrates the power of a steaming joke told in six words.
Lessons to be learned for writing six word stories
To sum up our lessons on writing six word stories:
- Use all your six words
- Be clever with sentence construction
- Build on previous six word stories
- Make your readers read twice
- Play with your 6 word story presentation
- Be literary
- Don’t forget dark humour
- Add a touch of romance
- Use dialogue
- Use mirroring language
- Tell a joke
All these stories are taken from the incredible subReddit r/sixwordstories. Pay the site a visit and enjoy new ideas.
You may also enjoy finding out about Six Word Wonder. A new book with over 500 six word stories, memoirs, jokes and poems.
Lastly, just start writing your own. Get stuck in.