A short essay on words, meaning and six word stories.

Looking back on my own attempts at six word stories, I notice that fairly often I’ve had to resort to conjunctions, colons, and semi-colons. I suspect that this makes me a novice of this craft. I do not think that the point of six word stories is to try and squeeze more words into less characters. And, although humans in general seem to find pleasure in miniaturizing most things, (chocolate bars, pop cans, data) I do not think that this is necessarily the only purpose of a six word story.  No, I think that the purpose of a six word story is to find the series of words with the most meaning in relation to the other five words around them. I suppose that this might be a fairly obvious statement, but six word stories should also be considered in regards to other forms of literature. With slightly greater error bars, and less word restriction, the lines of a poem, or the sentences of a chapter operate in the same manner as the individual words of six word story. For simplicity’s sake let’s call these divisions units of writing. The meaning of each unit hinges on the meaning of the units around it. The sharpest line of poetry can be defused if a dull line follows it. This is also why so much emphasis is placed on the first and last lines of any text. The unit of writing before a first line is the vast space in which the rest of our lives are contained, and the unit of writing after the last line is the silence of a conclusion, in which no further words are needed. Yet a six word story is both the first and last line at the same time. The result is that each word becomes not only highly charged with meaning, but extremely important to the quality of the story. In ballistic terms, a six word story is a revolver the hands of a writer, while a novel is an army directed by a general. The difference is that the pistol has no room for error. If I miss even one word on a six word story, I won’t get any “likes” here on WordPress. Yet readers will sometimes excuse entire chapters in a novel in anticipation of the return to quality. There the meaning of the entire text is allowed to drift between units, being more intense in certain spots and less in others. I think that this drift in meaning is where the value of a six word story lay, in the context of other genres. The point of a six word story is two-fold. On one hand, they train writers to choose the best words in the best order with no room for mistakes. On the other hand, six word stories demonstrate to both reader and writer that meaning itself is malleable, gaseous almost, taking the shape of its container.


I’d love to here thoughts from anyone who might read this entry.