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May Story a Day #8: Six Word Story

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Caught Checking In to Morrison Hotel

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Some of the best creative challenges in the digital story game are ones that limit the things you can do; the creativity is in working in that space. A perfect example is the Six Word Story Group in flickr:

Ernest Hemingway was once prodded to compose a complete story in six words. His answer, personally felt to be his best prose ever, was “For sale: baby shoes, never used.” Some people say it was to settle a bar bet. Others say it was a personal challenge directed at other famous authors.

I’d like you to post a photo with a Six Word Story in the title section of a Flickr photo. Be as inventive as possible. Have those few words tell the whole tale, and let the picture be its visual interpretation. Just make sure the title of your pic does indeed contain SIX WORDS in English.

The photo above was taken Saturday on my Manhattan Walkabout. The photo gallery labeled “Morrison Hotel” of course caught my eye (now that I have seen the web site, I regret not crossing the street).

I briefly considered what I could do besides making it a snapshot. I thought with a slow shutter speed, I might get some interesting blur of the cars going by on the Bowrey (and this shot did accomplish that), but in looking at the photo in Aperture, I am intrigued by the layers of different planes here- the couple in the median, the blurred cars, and the woman on the curb.

For some reason, the idea of bending this on as a six word story appealed to me. What might– well “explain” is the wrong word– the photo. That is something I have been trying to focus more on my workshops, as many people approach a story as a list of events, the way a young child might relay what happened in school. What I think we should seek is something with more of an arc, or more of a mystery, or just plain wild conjecture.

So in this case, I see the man on the media trying to explain himself to an angry wife. I blurred them more to make them.. well, entangled in an argument. He cannot explain why he was caught checking in to the Morrison Hotel, with another woman. Said woman, is either looking anxious or bored, like she just wants to exit the situation. I painted in some sharp to her figure in the photo, so she might stand out more.

In this case, the photo might be the set of a story, the stage. The six words then become an abbreviated plot or script. Chose six different words, and we ought to get a completely different story.

But mainly, I suggest taking your stories more on a path of confusion, ambiguity, open endedness, more mystery than just writing captions or documenting a series of actions.

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