The Shortest Story Ever Told

Thanks to Colleen, over at I was reminded of something I once read. I thought it’d be fun to share it and then ask anyone who cares to share their shortest story with a link back to their site. There are so many of you out there who I love to read, follow, get to know, but time is too short to stay up to date with every word. So many of you lighten me up when I’m feeling down, salt my bland courage bone when I’m huddled in a shell, stimulate my gray cells with new and interesting information, and inspire me to travel, to sing, to dance (well, maybe dream of dancing), to love my furry kids a little better, etc.

Here’s Hemingway’s story:

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.



About The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for "gross indecency" under Britian's recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When the news of Wilde's conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wildes' imprisonment. It is chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing. Paulette Mahurin, the author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs--- Max and Bella. She practices women's health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. All profits from her book are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Shelter, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA, where she lives. (see links below on Ventura County Star Article & Shelter) To find out more please go the The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on facebook or Amazon or e-mail us at the gavatar addresses. Thank you. (photos: of Paulette, her family, and a reading at The Ojai Art Center, July 2012)
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79 Responses to The Shortest Story Ever Told

  1. tazzielove says:

    Doubtful I can improve on Hemingway but all new friends are welcome over at my (our) place:

  2. kanzensakura says:

    That last story says so much that a volume would never improve on. I used to do Stories in Six Words to practice lean writing. Same reason I do haiku. I think I’ll get back into this. I’ve been a wordy little thing lately. time to go on a word diet! I’ll check out the link. thank you Paulette!

  3. kanzensakura says:

    I meant the one about the baby shoes…but I do like the tail wagging story. That is a best seller!

  4. Jean-Jacques says:

    Hemingway’s The old man and the Sea, remains one of my all time favourites. If memory serves, the shortest literary work ever to win a Nobel prize. In any event I can’t compete with his, the shortest ever story ever written, but here is my shortest story to date, my poem titled “Each Day” ~ I’m mindful ~

    As I awake
    Each day,
    I’m mindful
    Of this present,
    That so prolongs
    My temporal stay!

    Β© Jean-Jacques Fournier

  5. runningonsober says:

    Such a tough challenge. I’m coming up blank right now, but there is a site/blog that collects these stories. It’s fun to browse:

    One of the most touching:

    “The smallest caskets are the heaviest”

  6. FlaHam says:

    Paulette, I am so out of my league writing short stories, hell I can’t even write a title that is less than six words. Take care — Bill — xox — I will bet on Colleen LOL LOL. She can say volumes in 6 words.

  7. Putin takes Ukraine. History repeats itself…

  8. He is a genius!
    Sweet dreams, adorable sis ❀

  9. As always you are an inspiration.

  10. Hemingway is my hero.

    Land required farmer. Marriage possible.

  11. I love this idea Paulette! You are brilliant!

    I couldn’t wait to get all through my blog readings and comments to do this. Now I got nuthin’.

    Maybe a good sleep will help me reap …some words. πŸ˜‰ I’ll give it a go. I love this idea.

  12. Clanmother says:

    You always make my day brighter!

    “Come home. I’m here.”|

  13. Mustang.Koji says:

    I feel some sadness in the way I read his short story… A neighbor I called “Old Man Jack” lost his first child shortly after birth. Therefore never worn.

    But he’s my amateur attempt at a short story.

    Born: 1776. ICU: 2014.

    • I felt the same sorrow when I read it. I think that’s part of the brilliance of Hemingway’s six word story, not only does it lend to imagery, it lends to the emotional gut punch from the words. That’s sad about your neighbor, Koji. That’s a really tough one.

      Your short story says a lot as well and in only FOUR WORDS. One must really pay attention to that first date and the significance of the second to get the magnitude and power of it all. And, what will the sequel be? What happens after 2014? One can only look to our flag and pray. Thank you!

  14. Kev says:

    Hemingway was a true literary genius. πŸ™‚

  15. Nice story. Really inspiring. Looking forward for more

  16. What a thought provoking topic Paulette. I’ll give it some thought, though I’m not in your league, nor that of your followers, it seems!

  17. I love that “short” story! XXOO

  18. Angeline M says:

    Short story told. Hemingway books sell.
    Thanks, Paulette for some fun today.

  19. Clowie says:

    Six words to provoke such a whirl of emotion on reading them! That’s true economy with words.

  20. Sage says:

    I loved reading about these short stories, so I thought: I ran. Got hot. Saw puddle.

    That about sums me up, don’t you think? πŸ™‚

  21. I heard about that one about the baby shoes, I opens up so many possible explanations.

  22. jbw0123 says:

    I will not belly up next to Hemingway! Enjoying the funny, brilliant and entertaining shorts of your friends!

  23. FreeRangeCow says:

    Sick and tired of being sick and tired.

  24. Hi Paulette. Now that is short. Thank you for liking ‘Touch.’ Best Wishes. The Foureyed Poet.

  25. Dalo 2013 says:

    I love that story…can be anything you wish it, but absolutely heartbreaking for me.
    This is a nice little challenge to try to create one… πŸ™‚

  26. natuurfreak says:

    Nice short story but i like it a lot

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