Challenges The Public: “What Story Can You Tell In Six Words?”

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New short story writing competition provides a fun way to engage in the literary arts and to support all the arts, too.

It only takes six words.

Those that take up the challenge often say it is habit forming. Start with one six word story and soon you’ll be waking up at 2 a.m., grabbing a pencil to jot down another one. That is the hope at least, according to Maxine Adams, executive director of Lake Region Arts Council (LRAC) and organizer of the writing contest.

“This creative writing competition was inspired by the Hemingway short story,” explains Adams. “He was once challenged to write a complete story in six words. Here is what he wrote: ‘For sale: baby shoes, never used.’ Some people say it was written to settle a bar bet. Others say it was a personal challenge directed at other famous authors. But it proves that it is possible to create a short story with just six words.”

The website for the online writing competition recently started receiving writers’ submissions, and the first contest will end September 30. As soon as one short story contest ends, another will begin. According to Adams, each contest will have three proven writers to judge the entries, and information about the judges is posted on the website. Winning entries will be chosen based on creativity, cleverness, and imagery. The grand prize and second place winners will be announced on the website no later than 60 days after the contest ends. Looking for some recognition? Winners will also be announced in national media, including a couple literary magazines. Details about the prizes and more information on the contest rules and eligibility may be found online.

According to Adams, writing a six word story is painless and fun. Subject matter is limited only by one’s imagination, and as she points out “it only takes six words.” Adams and LRAC, the nonprofit she manages, are not newbies at holding writing competitions. LRAC has hosted several six word short story contests in the past that were enthusiastically received, some in partnership with another arts agency in North Dakota. The huge response and the frequent follow-up question “when is the next short writing contest?” gave Adams the idea to take the competition online, hoping it will eventually provide a revenue stream to help LRAC undertake other new arts programs. “Some people ask why there’s an entry fee. There are costs involved with holding a contest, from promoting the contest to paying the judges.” Adams also points out that with each entry fee, writers can submit up to three six word stories.

Lake Region Arts Council (LRAC) is one of Minnesota's eleven regional arts councils. Its mission is to encourage and support the arts throughout west central Minnesota (Region 4), specifically serving the rural counties of Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin. For more information or to enter LRAC’s Short Writing Contest, go to the website at

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Stephen. Henning

Maxine Adams
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