The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

Ten Word Stories

One of the famous urban legends of the literary world involves a wager that Ernest Hemingway made at a roundtable luncheon at The Algonquin. The story goes that a companion bet him $10 that he couldn’t write a novel in 6 words. He wrote, “For sale, Baby shoes, Never worn.” on a napkin, passed it around the table, and collected his winnings.

Between 5-paragraph essays, speeches, and Scull essays, Fay’s Upper School students have regular opportunities to write at length, but ultra-short writing presents a different kind of creative challenge. In the vein of Hemingway’s wager, Upper School English teacher Rich Roberts recently challenged all the students in his Upper School classes to write a story in just ten words. To add to the creative challenge, each class was given just ten minutes to complete the assignment. As an option, students were allowed to add a title to contextualize the story if they wished to. Some students created multiple stories within the allotted time and others used titles to great effect.

The key to creating a great ten-word story is, “to use your ten words to infer the larger story behind them,” says Rich. Whether their stories were insightful, comic, or tragic, the exercise and its results illustrated the power that each individual word can have to convey meaning. Upper School English faculty will be evaluating the ten-word story submissions and will vote for the winner of the challenge. Here are some examples of the students’ work:

They Didn’t See the Bus
Young in-love, with the ring,
They crossed the street.

Dad likes eating hot dogs.
I can’t find my dachshund.

He finally scored,
but he kicked it in his goal.

Dear Cupid,
Next time, can you please hit both? Thanks.