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The World's Shortest Story

It was said that once made a bet that he could write the world's shortest story. It would be a tearjerker of a tale only six words long.

His six-word story was, “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

Hemingway won the bet.

Researchers have long since proven that Hemingway's baby shoe story has been around since at least 1906. It wasn't even attributed to Hemingway until 1991, 30 years after the author's death. In fact, these types of micro tales go back so far that even employed them.

“These violent delights have violent ends.”

“Eaten out of house and home.”

And perhaps his most famous line,

“To be or not to be.”

This type of micro story is called “flash fiction.” These six-word memoirs were so popular that they spawned a series of books, one of which became a  .

Here are some more examples:

“Never, ever refuse a breath mint.”

“I still make coffee for two.”

“Goodbye mission control. Thanks for trying…”

Six-word stories like these also work in . Here are a few instances where you can't even read them without singing along:

“It's been a hard day's night.”

“Want a whole lot of love.”

“Every little thing gonna be alright.”

“You've got a friend in me.”

But regardless of who wrote it, the six-word tale has something to show us. Simply put, you don't need many words to create a big reaction.

Henry David spent two years by Walden Pond in the early Nineteenth Century. Thoreau wrote about what he learned during his time there in his now classic Walden. And while I don't remember a six-word story from that book, I do remember that Thoreau used very few words to sum up his premise when he wrote, “, simplify.”

Clearly, Thoreau understood that it didn't take a big vocabulary to make a big point (although, to be fair, if Thoreau really believed in what he was saying, why wouldn't he have just written “Simplify”?).

After all, as 's Polonius once quipped to Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit!”

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