6 word novel, Ernest Hemingway

6 Word Novel

Hemingway’s Six-Word Novel

Ernest Hemingway’s terse, economical writing style was revolutionary when it appeared in such novels as 1926’s The Sun Also Rises.

One of the legends about Hemingway is the six-word novel. It’s said that someone dared him to write a story so ridiculously spare in its word count as to be impossible. Apparently drinking was involved, as it was with most Hemingway legends. But Hemingway possessed unique talent. Most agree he succeeded, splendidly.

The Sun Also Rises was a big reason I decided to become an English major. I read it over summer break after my freshman year. I abandoned my vague plans to be a history or economics major when I went back as a sophomore.

Hemingway sparked another vague plan, one probably common among his fanatics. I wanted to become a writer of fiction. Though I did become a prolific writer, I failed to author fiction. Another of youth’s dreams destroyed by naiveté. Hemingway’s style is deceptively simple. Fewer words doesn’t mean lesser genius.

Yet I still think about writing a six-word novel. It’s harder than you think.


Elizabeth G Fagan, Lake Michigans Left Coast, lakemichigansleftcoast.com
Elizabeth G Fagan, Lake Michigan’s Left Coast, lakemichigansleftcoast.com

About the Author

Elizabeth G Fagan is a writer, photographer, and artist who resides on Lake Michigan’s shoreline in southeastern Wisconsin—a place she calls Lake Michigan’s Left Coast. She has been a professional writer for more than 35 years. See more essays >>>

Contact Elizabeth G Fagan

Fagan attended The Hammonasset School, a private arts high school in Connecticut, where she began writing, taking photographs, and making art. She earned a BA in English at Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa) and the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). She has an MA in Linguistics with a specialization in teaching English as a second language (ESL) from UIC. Fagan later gained an associate degree in Web Development from DePaul University, Chicago.

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