Shortest Story Ever Told

Ernest Hemingway

It is said that the shortest story ever told was written by the then young Ernest Hemingway, who said he could write a complete story in only six words!


His colleagues disagreed, and each bet 10$ against the claim.


Hemingway wrote down the words on a napkin
and passed it around.


Everyone agreed that he won the bet.


Here is the shortest story ever told:

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.


Here is another very short story, albeit not as short
as Hemingway’s it certainly doesn’t lack in impact:
A short Short Story

44 Responses to “Shortest Story Ever Told”

  1. Land requires farmer. Marriage possible.

  2. Author:

    […] […]

  3. Author:

    Like all good poetry, which it is more like than prose, it’s meaning is open to ones interpretation or imagination i.e. The shoes were far to small, after all the baby was ten pounds eleven ounces at birth. One should never trust an ultra sound, William would never let his son where pink baby shoes.

  4. Author:

    Post modern genius.

  5. Author:
  6. Author:

    it mean s two couples having baby wanted shoes the baby died the shoes was never worn.

  7. Author:

    What the hell is going on…

  8. Author:

    Time ended yesterday.

  9. The point is that you are left to imagine what happened.

  10. Author:

    [...] cultura del consumo y desecho, a veces es bueno encontrarnos con un respiro de esta existencia tan fugaz. Para mí, la forma más sencilla de lograr esteescape es a través de la literatura. Sin [...]

  11. Author:

    Exit, pursued by a bear.
    – Shakespeare

  12. Author:

    How about “for sale: used coffin?”

    • Author:

      The idea behind the for sale, is that there might be financial problems in the family – maybe from health costs of trying to save the wife/baby. Used coffin does not have the same implication.

      • Author:

        I disagree because the for sale part means that the baby died during childbirth. that is why they were never worn.

        • Author:

          Another perspective : a gift which was simply unfitting for the still living, baby?

          • Author:

            ”never worn”

  13. Author:

    [...] flash fiction will ever top Hemingway’s, but I [...]

  14. Author:

    comments remind me of a THE ONE BIRTH
    of bit of prose I wrote: All pro-choice folks are absolutely pro-choice!!!!! Please don’t tell anyone – they would be embarrassed
    for all births If others knew they had pro-life views ………..
    except – except – except You must promise. Thank you ……………
    THE ONE BIRTH Edward L. Strand (c) December 1, 2010
    their own…………………..

  15. Author:

    Well, I think he meant a monster or some thing/animal that wants to eat him… and I enjoyed the grammar lesson as well :D ahahaha

  16. Promised love, he lied.

    • Author:

      That was shit

      • Author:

        It’s shit but its good shit. :)

  17. Author:

    Hemingway rescue fails. Film at 11.

  18. Author:

    He arrived and decided to leave.

  19. Author:

    Commenters try beating Hemingway. Fail.

  20. Comes to the cooments to try and understand wtf. Ends up readin silly squabble.

  21. Beautiful. Sad. Provocative.

    • Author:

      You sir, are ridiculous.

  22. I love it how no-one knows which version of Hemingway’s six-word story is the definitive version. I have seen your version, with full stops (periods.) I have also seen a version just this morning that has two commas instead of the full stops – but I don’t think that any of them work grammatically as well as a version I saw in print somewhere (my brain keeps whispering about a Neil Gaiman book, so, eh maybe?)

    For Sale: Baby shoes; never worn.

    Not only does this version use a semi-colon (huzzah!) but it leaves the story “less complete” and more open to interpretation. And that there are (at least) three different versions of the story bodes not well for the Hemingway origin…

    • Author:

      Hemingway doesn’t use semicolons. It’s not his style. Full stop. Period. Because it’s short and succinct and finishes beautifully.

  23. Author:

    The last human awakens during doorknocks.

    • Author:

      Fredrick Brown much?

  24. Author:


  25. Author:

    that’s so sad… :(

  26. Author:

    Shallow grave. Still alive.

  27. Author:

    That is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and sit up for seeking extra of your excellent post. Additionally, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

    • Author:

      I know an even shorter one in 4 words:

      I`m afraid. It’s hungry.

      • Author:

        It’s not shorter… It’s 6 words as well.

        • Author:

          It is shorter. It’s 5 words. ”I’m” is indeed a contraction of ”I am”. But ”It’s” is not a contraction of two words. You’re thinking of “it is” which contracts to “its” as the apostroph used in “it’s” merrly implies ownership.

          Terrible story though. You both lose.

          • Author:

            you may want to rethink your assertion. it’s is a contraction of it is. its indicates ownership. you have it reversed.

          • Author:

            hahaha I loved the grammar lesson here—and how it was completely wrong. Priceless.

            Ya gotta love that.

          • Author:

            No dude, you lose. It’s = it is. Its = possession.

      • Author:

        Oh, please! Not only it has six letters, but in addition to that, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s (it is) illogical.

      • Author:

        It’s a Harlan Ellison story.

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