Inspired by an urban myth about Ernest Hemingway, I’m inviting you to write a tiny story and share it with me.

I’ll display my favourites (with full credit to their authors) when I appear at Chapters bookstore, 1037 Wellington Road, London, Ontario on January 30 to promote my second novel, Missing Steps.


It’s alleged that Ernest Hemingway once wagered someone $10 that he could write a complete story – with a beginning, middle and end – in just six words. He won the bet.

The story went like this:

“For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”

Whether the incident happened or not, it shows that when it comes to packing an emotional punch in fiction, size isn’t everything.

More recently, The Guardian newspaper issued a similar challenge to authors in the UK. Write a complete story in one tweet of 140 characters or less. Not quite as stringent as Papa Hemingway’s challenge perhaps (his story was only 33 characters long), but their responses further proved that good things indeed can come in tiny packages.

And so, I’m inviting you to give it a try. Go on. Write your own story in 140 characters or less (including spaces) and post it as a comment to this article. I’ll display my favourites (giving their authors full credit) when I appear at Chapters bookstore, 1037 Wellington Road, London, Ontario on Saturday, January 30 (11:00-2:00) to promote my second novel, Missing Steps.

Looking for inspiration? Visit The Guardian. Or consider the following effort by yours truly:

“You left your hairbrush at the cottage. On the mantel, behind the photo of my kids. Ann found it today. Don’t contact me again.”

It’s not like I’m asking you to write a novel. (Believe me, way more of a time commitment.) Go on. Give it a whirl.

And if you’re in London on Jan 30, drop by Chapters on Wellington Road and say hello.