The world’s shortest story consists of only six words.
Shorter than the preceding sentence.
Most often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, this “shortest story” was originally connected to him by author Peter Miller in his 1991 book, Get Published! Get Produced!: A Literary Agent’s Tips on How to Sell Your Writing.
First told to Miller in 1974 by a “well-established newspaper syndicator” the story alleges that Hemingway and a group of his writer friends were having lunch together at either Luchow’s or the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan. As the diners are awaiting their meal, Hemingway proposes a wager. He bets the table, $10 each, that he can construct an entire story using only six words. Confident that even an author of Hemingway’s stature could not compose an entire story with merely six words, his friends eagerly take him up on the bet. As they gather the money and await a sure failing on Hemingway’s part, the author begins to scrawl something on a napkin. He puts his pen down and passes the napkin around the table. As each lunch guest takes a turn reading the napkin, they concede the bet and Hemingway collects his winnings.
Written on the napkin was the following:
“For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn”