Skip to main content

Can you tell a story in six words? Twitter wants to know

can you tell a story in six words writer
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

Ernest Hemingway supposedly wrote that eerie but decidedly evocative six-word story in a bar room challenge. It’s just a literary urban legend, but the idea that a gifted storyteller can get their point across in so few words is still a formidable challenge for writers. That’s why Smith Magazine launched its Six Word Memoir project in 2006, asking readers to send in their life stories in six words. What was meant to fill space after writers backed out of an assignment turned into a full-fledged writing trend, as the magazine received a deluge of responses. The project blossomed into an ongoing challenge, with six books published with some of the best responses. Teachers use “six words” as a prompt in the classroom, it’s an icebreaker at conventions — and it’s an annual Twitter Festival. 

This year, from September 24-26, the Six Words Festival provides Twitter users with a variety of different prompts encouraging them to craft six word yarns. Celebrity judges read the responses, retweet the ones they like best, and decide daily winners. The standout entries may get included in the next installment of Six Words books. 

The first prompt on the schedule was “I Will Never Do That Again.” Members of the cast of Orange is the New Black and Regina Spektor, as well as the creator of the show, Piper Kerman, judged the set of tweets. Jason Biggs was especially enthusiastic (remember, he plays Larry Smith in OITNB). The  creator of Smith Magazine got the ball rolling:

The prompts range from series to tongue-in-cheek, with Tim Gunn deciding who captures their personal style best in six words, and Katie Couric evaluating six word tweets describing the secret of life. Michael Ian Black judged a prompt asking people to tweet “Six Words That Mean You’re Lying.” Responses are still popping up on Twitter even though this prompt contest is over, and there were some good ones:

 Comedian and Twitter genius Rob Delaney judges one of the prompts on the last day of the contest, so that should inspire some funny tweets. 

To learn more about Six Words, check out this video describing its origin story: 

Editors' Recommendations

Kate Knibbs
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kate Knibbs is a writer from Chicago. She is very happy that her borderline-unhealthy Internet habits are rewarded with a…
Twitter may let you select who can reply to your tweets
twitter urges users to change password after finding bug 1

Twitter is considering a new feature that would let you control who can reply to your tweets.

The news came via a Twitter presentation at CES in Las Vegas on Wednesday, January 8.

Read more
Twitter’s new Privacy Center lets you know what’s happening with your data

Twitter says it wants to be more upfront about the way it handles user data, and has launched a new Privacy Center with that goal in mind.

Admitting that “we have room for improvement” when it comes to communicating with its users about how it protects their privacy, Twitter on Monday explained what the new Privacy Center is all about.

Read more
Twitter: Now you can jazz up your retweets with GIFs, photos, and videos

Twitter now lets you add GIFs, photos, and videos to retweets. Until now, you could only add text.

The new feature landed on Monday, May 6 for Android, iOS, and Twitter’s mobile site, though it’s not yet available for the desktop version. Be sure to update to the latest version of the mobile app to make use of it.

Read more