Stories; we all tell them, we all hear them and we all have them to share. Here at The Real Story Company we've been looking at some remarkably short stories that need a little help and imagination from the audience to get to the bottom of them.
It is said that the shortest story ever written consisted of just six words and was scrawled on a napkin by Ernest Hemmingway, amidst a bet with friends that it was impossible to tell a story so short. Hemmingway’s story was simply:
‘For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.’
It’s likely that the quote was taken from a newspaper advert in an attempt for Hemmingway to win a bet and was not his own original writing. However, regardless of the circumstances in which the six-word-story was written, its implications are remarkable. Were the shoes bought for a child that was never born, due to infertility or miscarriage? Did the child die shortly after the birth? Or perhaps on a less tragic note – and my favourite possibility – perhaps aliens found the shoes having arrived on a destroyed planet Earth. They scan them for footprints and find that they are the only human shoes to never have been worn and sell them to alien life- forms (courtesy of caveman from egodialogues.com).
So, we may never know where the story came from or how Hemmingway intended it to be interpreted but it just goes to show, that even a story of just 6 words can spark as much debate as the timeless classics of Jane Eyre and William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – wait, is that right?
In essence we've found that whatever the story is, there’s no single right way to tell it. There’s no word limit or time restraint on getting to the heart of the stories we tell. As for choosing what those stories are – well that’s for you to decide!
If you think you can beat old Ernest Hemmingway, or if you think you’ve read one better, then tweet us @FWFilm and tell us about it. Drum roll please - there will be a prize for the best short story! We'll even give it a go ourselves.
Here a few more that we found to help inspire you…
2013 Man Book prize winner, Lydia Davis
'You ask me about Edith Wharton. Well, the name is very familiar.'
Guatemalan short-story writer, Augusto Monterroso
'When I woke up, the dinosaur was still there.'
Science fiction writer, Frederic Brown, 1948
(The shortest story before Hemmingway's)
'The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door...'
And finally, in response to Brown's attempt, Ron Smith wrote:
A Horror Story Shorter by One Letter than the Shortest Story Ever Told
'The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a lock on the door...'