Saturday, November 14, 2009

Six Word Stories from the Tick Tock Men (and Woman)

I want to respond to all of the posts below from those who've responded to my "What do we owe the readers?" question, because I've still got more to say about it, especially about the fact that so few weighed in on my following question, "What do we specifically not owe the readers?" which granted could be just a touch incendiary, depending on the responses, so I don't really blame the others for not jumping on that grenade.

But all of that will have to wait because it's time, as promised, for our six word stories, and here's what we found out: Six word stories are fun. Before this I thought comic book writing left no room for wasted words and run-on scenes, but I was wrong. Now I see that comics are positively fat with room for leisurely prose, for slow and deliberate character development, for almost glacial building of plot and tension. The six word story is where the really terse and bare bones writing is done these days.

But it seems even this isn't the acme of the short story. As you'll see below the new guy, Daryl, thought that was one word too many -- that the six worders contained too much room to ramble on. Or maybe he just thought he could show us up again. Regardless, we now present a selection of six word stories (and one five word story) for your enjoyment.

Chris Roberson

Librarian of Alexandria seeks overdue books.

Matthew Sturges

1) A stitch in time saves Lincoln.

2) We're all dead? Good. Let's eat.

3) The universe ended this morning. Again.

4) THIS virus, however, is totally safe.

5) I ate her brain. She reciprocated.

6) No, the aliens ARE the ocean!

7) Dad: fangs. Me: stake. Oedipus: schadenfreude.

Marc Andreyko

1) they married. he died. she's rich.

2) the asylum doors broke open. crap.

3) the diagnosis was bad. he partied.

4) satan: "So?" walter: "It's a deal."

Paul Cornell

"It's my vagina, my dear Watson."

Bill Williams

The ball bounced. I leapt. Score.

Daryl Gregory

"Daylight savings," Van Helsing answered.

Marjorie M Liu

1) I only have eggs for you.

2) Never date Amish vampires. No bite.

Mark Finn

1) Sports fisherman accidentally kills Moby Dick.

2) Slot machine of Dorian Gray malfunctions.

3) Sam Bowen becomes Godfather of Chinatown.

4) Clockwork Storybook expands. Publishing world contracts.

5) Disgruntled elf sleighs Santa. Christmas sucks.

6) Sex therapist's new hobby turns deadly.

7) Biographer rewrites his own life story.

8) Ambrosia unknowingly served at convenience store.

Bill Willingham

Traditional Horror: "What curse? I can't read hieroglyphs."

Modern Horror: Chop! Chop! Chop! Stab! Stab! Stab!

Fantasy: Dark Lord missing. Final battle postponed.

Sword and Sorcery: He came. He saw. He cleaved.

Traditional Romance: "It's not love. It's something more."

Modern Romance: "It's not love. It's something less."

Western: The outlaw drew first, but missed.

Mystery: The butler didn't do it. Yet.

Traditional Lit: Scoured the moors, but she'd departed.

Modern Lit: Suffering ennui, he ended the affair.

Science Fiction: Fleet never surfaced. Hyperspace is fickle.

Historical: Albinus stepped hesitant into the Rubicon.

War: Zulus attacked in waves. "Volley fire!"

Adventure: "One chance! See that rooftop? Jump!"

Children's: Itsy bitsy bug, needs a hug.


  1. Not that button! Not that Button!

  2. She stopped breathing, but I died.

  3. You guys should all have a meeting at the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, NJ. Because that would be awesome...and I could walk there. :)

    My favorite of these is Matt's "THIS virus, however, is totally safe."

    However, it's "schadenfreude," not "shadenfreude," meaning that 16.67% of the words in that story were spelled wrong. :P

    Willingham's "The butler didn't do it. Yet." made me want to read a short story with that as its first two sentences. "More! More! More!" my imagination demanded. Willingham's collection made me imagine the Genres saying them which made it more entertaining, but it kind-of felt like they were telling a collective story instead of separate 6-word stories (by virtue of the fact that some of the stories were cross-representational).

    I also really enjoyed Roberson's story. Roberson has the reputation of being the most verbose, so it was an impressive feat of discipline that he held himself to just one six-word story.

    I like Mark Finn's #4 because it's true.


  4. Schadenfreude has been corrected -- my typing mistake, not Matt's writing mistake -- and now no one can continue indulging in schadenfreude over our gross failure. Ha!

    And I did have the Genres from The Great Fables Crossover (plug!) in mind when crafting my sixers. Matt, how did we possibly miss doing Children's Books as one of our killer genres? Imagine the comedic possibilities!

  5. Traditional Vampire Lit: "Break windows! Burn him with sunlight!"

    Modern Vampire Lit: "Sunlight makes him more sparkling, beautiful?"

  6. I farted; instantly my class quieted.

  7. Re: Children's lit: "Hop on Pop? Don't stop. Hurray!"

    Children's Horror: "Hop on Pop. He's dead? Run!"

  8. The early reader horror market is criminally under-served. I'm working on "Horton Hears Voices" right now, to be followed by "Horton Hatches the Lloigor" in early 2011.

  9. Chris' was great. Loved Sturges' 3 & 4. Cornell made me spit-take. And Willingham's Mystery and Science Fiction genre takes were good too.

    I tried to write a few of these yesterday. Feedback welcome.

    1. They're back, this time they fly.

    2. Cleaned my room, it wasn't there.

    3. Browser history cleared, this fight avoided.

    4. Knocking at door, leaving through window.

    5. Emptiness everywhere, guess I missed Rapture.

    6. Dinosaurs died, mammals thrived, what's next?

  10. I thought I'd try my hand at some kid's titles.

    Where the Wild Things are Breeding.

    The Black Cat in the Hat

    Quack. Quack. Quack. Bang. Bang. Bang.

    If You Give a Mouse Rabies...

    Richard Scarry's Biggest Book of Diseases

  11. Willingham's list reminded me...

    "Stories by Bill de Bergerac, Cyrano's cousin"

    Assuming that de Bergerac can count as one word...

  12. "Ah, do you give the little birds this to perch upon? Is this the nose that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Illum?"

    Should I have kept going then?

  13. Need at least another 3 to make it to 20...

  14. Emo lit: Crowded theater tonight, I'm so lonely.

    Chic lit: He's rich, handsome, sensitive. I'm leaving.