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Wonderful Writing Exercise for All Ages

Poetry/Curriculum/Spoken Word Poetry/Classroom Activity


By Melanie Weiss

Flash fiction is a genre of fiction that involves telling a story using between 5 and 1,500 words. Today, we are going to focus on the smaller side of that scale:

Flat tire.

New Job.

No Job?

This may be just six short words but in the right combination it says everything you need to know. Writing a six-word story can be fun for every age and makes an excellent creative writing assignment that encourages students to use precise, concise language. It's wonderful, isn't it, how six little words can be strung together to say something so much BIGGER.

Six-word stories are a great way to help students get more comfortable with writing short stories and poems Start with a six-word story assignment before moving into haikus and other forms of free verse poetry, such as spoken word poetry. Prompts for six-word stories are endless.

Adding the six-word story to your curriculum offers students an interactive exercise in thinking creatively as they share these stories with their classmates. The stories are often goofy, usually fun, sometimes serious or head-scratching, but always entertaining.

I knew I had to work the six-word story into my Young Adult Novel, Spoken, because the novel takes place partly at a fictionalized version of Oak Park and River Forest High School in Illinois, which has a robust Spoken Word Club, and is the high school that Ernest Hemingway attended and graduated from in 1917.

Ernest Hemingway has been credited with writing the first six-word story, though this is one of those myths that continues to live despite being debunked.

The weight of connecting six well-thought-out words cannot be denied. We ALL have it within us to unleash that power and create our own six-word masterpiece.

There are ways to stretch this assignment further. Students could illustrate their short stories. A student could pass the story to another classmate and that classmate could draw what the story is telling them. Consider assigning a six-word memoir, which offers students the opportunity to find a concise way to share who they are with their teacher and classmates.

The beauty of the six-word story is simple: One classroom, countless stories, students soar.


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