For Sale: Baby shoes, Never used.


Can you explain this story for me: “For Sale: Baby shoes, Never used.” This was the “story” of Ernest Hemingway when he was asked to tell a story by only six words. Many websites say that these six words were Hemingway’s masterpiece. But I don’t understand any thing. What does this story mean?

Thanks in advance.

I think it is spam (an ad) :slight_smile:

It’s not spam, it’s an actual six-word story attributed to Hemmingway.

Sympathy, I’ll try to explain it by asking you a question.

Why would somebody have baby shoes that have never been used?

The answer to that question tells the story.

Write back if you’re still not clear.

I like this six word story better: “Longed for him. Got him. Sh*t” :slight_smile:

Thank you very much Skrej.

Well, I came across another story on the Internet. … Never_used

The writer wrote a story, all of its sentences having exactly 6 words. A woman is pregnant, but unfortunately she has a miscarriage, because of an accident … Everyone feels great sadness, as though nothing is left but a never-used pair of shoes for the baby.

Is that what you are trying to explain to me? If that’s true, then I must take my hat off to Hemingway. A long story by just six words.

Hi Sympathy,

That’s exactly it. Something, (most likely a miscarriage, but perhaps some other tragedy) has killed the baby either before it was born, or perhaps after it was born, but before the parents could ever dress it.

The cleverness of the story is, as you said, that Hemmingway just gives a basic outline, but yet we know what happens based upon what he doesn’t say. We may not know the specific details, but we know the story. A baby is conceived, plans for its future are made, and then something happens to destroy those plans before they ever take place.

With regards to the page you mentioned, only the 1st six-word sentence is the Hemmingway story. The rest of the story that you see there is another author’s attempt to fill in the story, using only six words in each sentence. The 2nd writer is just attempting to give specific details, but we already know basically what happened, since something has happened to the baby before it could wear its shoes.

There’s a whole genre of writing, alternately called the short short story, flash fiction, microfiction, or sudden fiction, which is generally accepted as being less than 1,000-2,000 words long. The vast majority is between 250 and 1,000 words.

There is a sub-genre of microfiction loosely called ‘word count’, with a wide range of specific names for different types of flash fiction with specific limits, such as the Drabble (exactly 100 words including the title), 55 fiction (you guessed it, exactly 55 words including the title), and more.

Here are a few links to look at if you’re interested.
55 Fiction
Some Drables
400 words

This story may also be a metaphor for a man (guess who) who feels he skipped childhood entirely and never needed “baby shoes”.

Catharine Deane is a psychotherapist who is part of a revolutionary new treatment which allows her mind to literally enter the mind of her patients. Her experience in this method takes an unexpected turn when an FBI agent comes to ask for a desperate favour. They had just tracked down a notorious serial killer, Carl Stargher, whose MO is to abduct women one at a time and place them in a secret area where they are kept for about 40 hours until they are slowly drowned. Unfortunately, the killer has fallen into an irreversible coma which means he cannot confess where he has taken his latest victim before she dies. Now, Catherine Deane must race against time to explore the twisted mind of the killer to get the information she needs, but Stargher’s damaged personality poses dangers that threaten to overwhelm her.

Yes…that was a movie with Jennifer Lopez. I forget the title. I thought ypu were trying to pass this off as original but then I noted that there was a movie tie in mentioned