The Challenge

Over at the First Things blog, Father Neuhaus has noted the following:

Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words, which he did. (I’ll get to what he wrote.) Black Book magazine issued the same challenge to a slew of well-known contemporary authors. Norman Mailer wrote this: “Satan – Jehovah – fifteen rounds. A draw.” John Updike: “Forgive me!’ ‘What for?’ ‘Never mind.’” None of them come close to what Hemingway wrote: “For sale: baby shoes, never used.”

Joseph Bottum has added that his best effort at the one-sentence story is this:

“Something about him put her back up, and she swore that this time she wouldn’t take his advances lying down.”

Now, Nutmeg has gone and challenged me to reel in my powers of prolixity and take up Mr. Hemingway’s six-fingered gauntlet. Short story, six words. First attempt:

“Now, it’s too heavy to drop.”

I know, I know. I’ll keep thinking. How ’bout y’all?


  1. Our cat had six kittens.

  2. Papa’s gone, but this stew’s delicious.

  3. Deep Furrows says

    And that’s why dogs can’t talk!

  4. Mark Mossa, SJ says

    Drawing water, she weighed her lines.

  5. Here is my attempt.


  6. Oh no! who knew, what now?

  7. Zachary, I laughed out loud at yours!

    Here’s mine:

    “Go slower….we are almost there.”

  8. Matthew Lickona says

    The wife chimed in with this one:

    River’s rising; Jimmy’s missing; Papa’s drunk.

  9. antiaphrodite says

    my creative faculties are shot. sorry.

    i’ll attempt to post something better.

    this is, then, my third try.


  10. Are we paid by the word?

  11. Dear John,

    I win.

    Love, Jane.

  12. Love2Learn Mom says

    Here’s what I left on Nutmeg’s blog…

    “Children cried as field became condominium.”

  13. “And yet…”
    “Don’t you dare!”

  14. “Betcha can’t.”
    “Betcha can.”
    “Betcha did.”

  15. Jonathan Potter says

    Buried alive with you my friend.

  16. The best comes from jonathan… nope, don’t know him.

  17. “How was I supposed to know?”

  18. Matthew Lickona says

    Great stuff, people. Spread the word – we may have something going here.

  19. Of course we all have to dip into our high school creative english class lessons for examples of how to do the story. Remember the “how, where, why… ” tools, the way to include “beginning, middle and end”. Blah, blah, blah… “good luck!” (there’s a hint)

  20. We need a zookeeper, not diapers!

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