Wednesday, October 24, 2012

6 Word Stories

     It all began: Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write an entire story in 6 words. What he wrote: "For Sale: baby shoes. never worn."
     I teach 6 word stories as part of my "outside-the-box" unit, after poetry and Ttranscendentalism, to my American Literature classes who are juniors. We discuss the ideas and images that Hemingway creates with those simple 6 words. And then I have them create a 6 word story of their own. I give them 15-20 minutes to do this and most of my students not only write one but several 6 words stories. In these stories I get a very realistic view into their life. These 6 words give me more information than the introduction essay I have them write at the beginning of every semester.
     Some of the stories from years past:
          Everything would be better without me.
          Holly, sit, sit, good job mamas!
          Wishing, running, flying. No more restrictions.
          Like stealing, I get it free.
          Marco Polo, where are you now?
          I will continue school at college.
          God called me so I went.
          Music. It changed me, It's life.
          More school, more knowledge, more pay.
          Hot sauce, like salsa, makes dance.
          Happy family. Next thing, it's broken.
          I did it! Proud of me!
          I need to go to sleep.
          Heroes like family: there for me.
          First blur, then view, finally lust.
          We were going to grow together.
          My greatest burden is my gift.
     These and many more are put up on a wall in my class room. I add their initials to them as a tribute, and am careful not to put them up until the students have graduated, because I encourage them to write from the heart, and they do, but they may not want the people in their class to know who said what.
     I have a whole new batch waiting to be put up next year from last year's students and another batch from this year that I will wait for two years to post. But all my students are fascinated by these stories, these glimpses into their peer's lives.
     6 Word Stories. 6 words. So simple, yet so powerful.

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