Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was challenged by some friends to write a story using only six words. Hemingway responded to the challenge with the following story: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
The story tickles the imagination. Why were the shoes never worn? Were they too small? Did the baby die? Was the baby not able to wear shoes? Any of these are plausible explanations left up to the reader’s imagination.
This style of writing has a number of aliases: postcard fiction, flash fiction, micro fiction, and sudden fiction. A dear friend and fellow author, Tom Fowler, introduced me to this style of writing over coffee. I was entranced with the style of writing and started thinking about how a sudden fiction writing style could be adapted to how-to books. I took to task and wrote the first book, Six-Word Lessons for Project Managers. In writing the book, I set out several guiding principles, as follows:
· Every lesson had to be exactly six words
· The book would have exactly 100 lessons
· Each six-word lesson would have a brief explanation of the lesson which must fit on a single page in the book. No droning on and on about a lesson.
I finished the book in the spring of 2009 and published it on Amazon and ebook platforms. Here’s what a lesson looks like:
Good PMs don’t boil the ocean.
Over-zealous PMs hyper-focused on pleasing their sponsor at times are too eager to inflate scope. Keep scope right-sized to the problem statement and use seasoned advisors to help you not say “yes” too much.
After finishing the first book, it became evident to me that the six-word lessons format wasn’t specific to project management or even business for that matter. If an author was passionate about their area of subject matter expertise, then there could be a six-word lessons book on the topic. We now have 24 books on a wide range of topics such as being more productive, starting up a business, utilizing social media, surviving divorce, and coping with grief. Even our son Trevor wrote Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, which describes his experience growing up with autism. Our vision is to have hundreds of six-word lessons books on just about any topic imaginable, all written by passionate subject matter experts and easy enough to read in about an hour. Reading hundreds of pages looking for those few nuggets of wisdom is no longer necessary. Today’s reader wants concise and relevant information at their fingertips. That’s what The Six-Word Lessons Series is all about. Come see all of our six-word lessons books at www.6wordlessons.com.
Lonnie Pacelli is an author, entrepreneur, and creator of The Six-Word Lessons Series.
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