How many words does it take to tell a Bible story?

Rumor has it that Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a novel in six words and wrote: For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

Larry Smith in 2006 built on the idea by asking people to write their life memoir in six words and I adapted it yet again on Friday when I asked my Junior 2 (8th grade) students to write about one of their trips in six words for our unit on travel.

{Before we got to them writing their stories I had them guess the back story. Granted it was early on a Friday morning, but I wasn’t very impressed by their uninspired “it’s a newspaper ad.” So I told them a moving tale about a young woman who died in childbirth after months of preparing for the birth of her first child and how the baby died in her father’s arms an hour after she was born. Even junior high boys love a dramatic tale in China! I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t applause at the end.}

Six word travel stories

Turns out, word terseness is fun.

I’ve been writing six word stories on pieces of paper scattered around my apartment and thought I’d share try my hand at Bible stories. Can you recognize these?

Five stones. One Giant. Sling ready.

Gone fishing for men. Nets optional.

Get new wife … won’t prance naked!

Watch: dry bones come to life!

May it be as you said.

Don’t know him. Why’s rooster crowing?

Dreaming brother rescues family from famine.

Kill Uriah. Problem solved. Oh really?

Thanks for pass on human excrement!


Which one did you like? Or, tell your own six word story in the comments — could be a travel story, a bible story, or your memoir. Have fun!


  1. Thanks Amy! You just gave me a great idea for my grade 10 & 11 classes. Trying to teach them when they have written their finals is going to be tough for the next few weeks. This will be something for them to learn more about themselves and I will learn more about them as well.
    6 words: The Law, Changed Man, The Spokesman. :)

    • Guess what Rhonda, I read about this on Erika’s blog several weeks ago … so I love that one teacher is passing it on to the next!

  2. Lynn Morrissey says:

    Being the Queen of Verbosity, these small-worded exercises are always challenging and rewarding for me. I’ve enjoyed writing them, and also haiku…..and I have chiseled my purpose statement down to two words (so much more powerful and easy to remember)! Sometimes less really is more, as you demonstrated, Amy. And really, “God is love,” is all we need to know.
    Bless you,

    • Lynn, I’ve found the most difficult part of writing a book proposal is the elevator pitch — I can write words and words, but to it it down to two sentences very challenging :). God is love is all needed!

  3. Jon Curtis says:

    Love it! :)

  4. I liked Watch: dry bones come to life, Five stones. One Giant. Sling ready, Get new wife…won’t prance naked, and Dreaming brother rescues family from famine. These are great!! Thanks for sharing.
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  5. This is a great exercise, Amy! Here are my attempts:

    Zealot becomes blind then sees light.
    Son of thunder becomes love disciple.
    Looking for husband on threshing floor.
    From king’s cupbearer to national leader.
    For such a time as this! (I know, it’s taken directly from the story, but I think it really sums up the whole story!)

  6. This is a fun exercise. It’s easy to use lots of words. It’s hard to narrow it down.
    Look at the parables!

    Fig Tree. Cursed. Life. Resurrection foretold.
    David Rupert recently posted…Is it better to burn out, or simply fade away?My Profile

  7. Mark Allman says:

    Green Eggs and Ham is a story Dr Seuss wrote when challenge to write a story with just 50 words.

  8. Debbie Marshall says:

    Messy Middle reads my world well.

  9. I’ve been meaning to try these out. Here’s what I came up with. It’s a challenge to put big ideas into small packages.

    Price paid. Battle over. Welcome home.
    Sordid past. Living water. New life.
    One small lunch. No small miracle.
    Sin confessed. Love accepted. Brokenness healed.
    Freedom in brokenness because He loves.

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