Writing short

You would never know it by reading my writing, but I love short, tight sentences. I’m not a particularly big fan of Stephen King, but I love his often quoted writing advice: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”


A writer’s site that I follow posted this week “six word stories that tell an agonizing story.” While short, these sentences still manage to knock you off your feet. You can envision them. You can see the pain, the sadness, the emotion as clear as day. I picked out a few of my favorites:

  • “An only son, a folded flag.”
  • “’Just Married!’” Read the shattered windshield.”
  • “I met my soulmate. She didn’t.”
  • “He hit send, then a tree.”
  • “What’s your return policy on rings?”
  • “It’s our fiftieth, table for one.”
  • “Mom taught me how to shave.”
  • “Goodbye Mission Control. Thanks for trying.”
  • “The smallest coffins are the heaviest.”

I couldn’t resist trying to come up with a few suggestions of my own:

  • “She never trusted me again.”
  • “I forgave. She didn’t. She won.”
  • “We would’ve celebrated 49 years together.”
  • “The plane went down over ISIS.”
  • “Her final memory: the screaming siren.”
  • “He flew left, his coffee right.”
  • “The solider died on Christmas morning.”
  • “Heaven? Hell? Which?”

Most of my ideas fall flat compared to the one’s listed by the site. It’s actually really hard to say all that you want with only a handful of words. In my lame attempt, I would inevitably end up with one or two extra words. I think it goes to show you the value of being precise and getting to the point.

It takes a lot of work to write short.

Now if we were just as careful with the words out of our mouths compared to what we put down on paper. I suspect we’d be a heck of a lot more loving and kind to our family and friends and those around us.

Maybe not, but I’ll certainly be watching my words.

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