Conciseness: a writing gift


I came across this quote last week while attending a webinar for work and was amazed at how interested I was in these six small words.

Though there is some debate as to who the quote should be attributed to, Hemingway supposedly said that he could tell a great story in only six words. His example was:

“For sale, baby carriage. Never used.”

Oh, the thoughts that sprang into my head. The story there – you can imagine your own tale for this person. Is it a husband and wife, selling the baby carriage they bought before finding out they couldn’t have children? Or did their child die? Or is it a husband selling the baby carriage because his wife died in childbirth, taking the baby with her?

On looking it up, I found a few other versions, such as the idea that he said “shoes” instead of “carriage.” Whatever noun you use, though, it’s interesting to me that he (or someone) posed the idea of telling a story in just six words.

From being trained as a journalist, I understand the need to be concise. All of the little flowery details should be left to poetry, if they’re included there at all. Write what is important. Write what needs to be said.

There’s the old saying that “less is more.” I think that also applies to writing. Let your reader’s imagination work. There’s too little of that happening these days anyway.

I'm a lover of writing and books. I graduated from South Dakota State with a master's degree in communications in 2011, the same year I was first published. I'm a wife and mom, and I work in content and digital marketing in South Dakota.

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Posted in Intrigues, Writing tips

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