Friday, July 25, 2014

The WNI Six-Word Story Contest: We have our winners!

After careful deliberation, the judges have made their choices of the top winners of our Six-Word Story Contest.

First place goes to Heather Lynn Atwood of Mesa, Arizona. In a Writing North Idaho first, Heather, actually tied with herself for first place with two entries:

I swapped stilettos for a minivan.


A wounded veteran. Not bleeding. Empty.

Our second place winner is Nancy J. Wood of Canada, who wrote:

Guests gathered. Bride waits. Exits alone.

Third place goes to Kerri Thoresen of Post Falls, Idaho, with:

Battered and bruised but still standing.

The judges looked for fresh themes, a lack of cliches, clever language, vivid imagery, and above all, a story. What makes a six-word story, versus a sentence or a statement?

The best stories tell a tale, evoke an emotion, create a vivid picture, and open the mind to deeper reflection. They move forward from beginning to end.

In Ernest Hemingway's famous example, "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn," we see the clear image of the baby shoes. "For sale" tells us they are no longer needed, for whatever reason. So far it sounds like any typical classified ad or Craigslist posting.

"Never worn" is the heart of the story, the part that raises deeper questions. It tells us that the baby simply didn't outgrow them. What happened to the baby? Did he or she die? Was he or she given away, or taken away? Was there no baby to begin with? Did someone buy baby shoes in anticipation of a baby, but something happened--infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, a broken marriage--to crush that dream? Our minds move from the beginning--the basic fact of shoes for sale--to the end--something happened to that baby, and we want to know what it was. Clearly, "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn" tells a story in a way that, say, "For sale. Baby shoes. Size two" does not, even though both contain six words.

Many thanks to all who entered. We hope you had fun and felt challenged, and will enter the next Writing North Idaho contest, which will be announced in November. In the meantime, feel free to send feedback about the contest or ideas for future contests to wnicontest (at) writingnorthidaho (dot) com.

Happy writing!
from your friends at Writing North Idaho

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