Six Word Memoirs

Have you ever heard of six word memoirs?

The idea behind it is to write a personal narrative in only six words. Simple, right? Yes and no. NPR’s website states that Ernest Hemingway was asked to write a story in six words; he responded, “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Hemingway, who wrote in short sentences and accessible vocabulary, would have fit right in with our society today. Text messages with lol or shortening words to single letters (you = u or are = r). Tweets with 140 characters or less. If Hemingway was around now, can you imagine the drunk texts or tweets he’d be sending out? He would definitely find himself on TMZ and Entertainment Tonight on a regular basis.

I digress.

Just like a full length personal narrative, the six word memoir tells a story. Sometimes the story is obvious and other times vague.

Super Bowl, no – Costco shopping, yes

It is also fun to play around with punctuation (yes, nerd teacher, I know). There are no rules other than the need for six words. Periods? Who needs ’em. Complete sentences? Unnecessary.

Chocolate banana bread calling my name

The vagueness behind some of these mini-memoirs opens the door for further writing and explaining. For example, the memoir above references my feelings regarding the bread a coworker baked and brought in to share today. It was the perfect mid-morning snack to hold me over until lunch time at 12:45pm. The moist bread had good banana flavor and just the right amount of chocolate chips.

In my pursuit of becoming a writer, a six word memoir is a great place for me or anyone else to start. While not all of us can or want to write a full novel, everyone can write six words. On this website, one of the creators of this literary movement provides six tips for six word memoirs.

1) Be specific
2) Be honest
3) Forget the thesaurus
4) Use your speaking voice
5) Experiment with structure
6) Stop trying so hard

One more to finish the night with:

Eight hours of sleep is ideal

What is your six word memoir from the day?


2 thoughts on “Six Word Memoirs

  1. I’d have to think of a six word memoir. I’ve certainly written a memoir in two paragraphs. I like what you had to say about Hemingway. I think he would be one of those who puts his hand in the way of the TMZ camera. Thanks for sharing. I will try to come up with one.

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