Updated: Jan 17
Today marks the final creativity tip in a series of five and this one is one of my favourites as it offers challenge, thinking time and relationship building because of the shared connections that it fosters.
It is called the 'Six Word Story'.
This is an exercise popularised by Ernest Hemingway.
His 'For sale: baby shoes, never worn' is a rather dark example, but probably the most well known.
The six word story should convey something powerful or express a feeling. Writing a six word story involves making hard choices by stripping away anything that doesn't need to be there.
Look at these examples to get a clearer idea of this creative thinking routine:
They lived happily ever after. Separately.
'Reading for Dummies,’ somehow, never sold.
It was dark inside the wolf. (Margaret Atwood)
Marley was dead. To begin with. (Charles Dickens)
The only constraints when constructing a six word story is that it must make sense to the reader, it must take the reader on a journey and evoke feelings...probably curiosity.
The six word story can work so well at the end of a unit of work that has been taught either online or in the classroom.
Here are some examples:
Without method, there is only madness.
After several weeks the spores spoke.
Philosophy (class on nihilism)
Well that was all for nothing
History (class on the burning of Rome.)
My kingdom, in ruins, in ash.
There are limitless opportunities to partake in this creative thinking activity and when these stories are shared among the students and their teachers there will be humour and a sense of connection created by this shared experience. It is no doubt a challenge, but a desirable challenge.
This creative thinking technique will be frustrating to the student who would excel writing a 2500 word essay on a book covered in class or construct a report of their findings or workings. This strategy does not replace the value of these pursuits, it just enriches them. In fact, giving a student that prefers to write at length the six word story task will be more challenging to them as it will force them out of their comfort zone and help them develop their growth mindset. This is why adding in artificial constraints to a student helps them to reframe their approach to something that is consumable to the majority.
The extended writing tells; the six word story shows.
The six word story evokes sufficient curiosity from the reader to commit time to finding out what happens next or to question the premise.
When you think about it, life after school has little time for extended writing. The elevator pitch is all most people have the capacity and willingness to listen to given that the average attention span of human beings is around 8 seconds.
The six word story task will help hone creative thinking, problem solving and set students up for the way that they will have to communicate in the most part when they leave education.
If you found this article interesting or you disagreed with it, please comment below as I am always interested the views of my readers.
Connect or follow me on LinkedIn: I write about mindset, creative, critical and strategic thinking, collaboration, communication and teaching and learning.