This might be a myth, but if so, it’s a useful myth.
Over lunch at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, Ernest Hemingway bragged that he could write a compelling story in only six words. It would have a beginning, a middle and an ending. And it would sing.
His friends scoffed. They each bet $10 he couldn’t do it.
The writer who set the 20th century standard for spare prose wrote six words on a napkin:
“For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”
Each writer read the napkin and handed over the cash.
The lesson: Pay attention to the economy of your words. Brevity won’t limit their power.
—Adapted from “10 Works of Literature that Were Ridiculously Hard to Write,” Mark Juddery, Mental Floss.
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