Can You Tell a Story in 6 Words or Less?

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Apparently the story about Ernest Hemingway telling his friends he only needed 6 words to tell a story is a myth.

But it’s sure an interesting exercise. AND, it’s a fabulous teaser to help you write better email subject lines.

Hemingway’s friends supposedly thought he was just being arrogant.

So he grabbed some paper and wrote these words…

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

Well shucks… I guess you CAN write a story in just 6 words!

I had a ton of fun yesterday playing around with this idea on Instagram. My cousin Danny followed along and added some excitement to the conversation with a link to an NPR spot from 2010 called: “Can You Tell Your Life Story In Exactly Six Words?”

The examples are amazing. Here are a few…

Found on Craigslist: table, apartment, fiance.
- Becki Lee

Met wife at her bachelorette party.
- Eddie Matz

I picked passion. Now I'm poor.
- Kathleen E. Whitlock

OUCH! Story of my early adult life…

After cancer, I became a semicolon.
- Anthony R. Cardno

And my favorite...

Alzheimer's: meeting new people every day.
- Phil Skversky

Apart from the fun I’ve been having coming up with some of my own 6 word stories…

Closet empty. No note. She’s gone.

Trump? What happened to our country?

Minivan? Should have used a condom.

The thing about great email subject lines is, they stuff a whole bunch of imagery or intrigue or provocation into a few words.

Here are some of my recent subject lines that do the trick quite nicely if I do say so myself :). Some write for myself, and some for my clients.

Get your pen out of my crack

This ain’t no booty call

The 2nd time my husband abandoned me

Our cute little 2-year-old Con Artist

Yay, our baby has yellow poop!

Wise words from a deranged psychopath

Scrolling on the toilet?

The customer is always an idiot

“Jingle bells, toddlers smell, infants laying eggs..."

So, here’s what I want you to do. I’m calling you out! Time for a challenge!

Click or tap the image below and post it to your Facebook or Instagram feed. Then, write a couple 6 word stories of your own and tag me.

My Facebook handle is @RockStarCopywriting and my Instagram handle is @dougpew.

Let’s have some fun with this!

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!