6 word memoir examples about yourself

Six Word Memoirs

Inspired by the book Not Quite What I was Planning: Six Word Memoirs from Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by Penn alumni Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, the Hub decided to write their own six-word stories.

Have your own six-word contribution? Email us! [email protected]

Don't contractions count as two words?

Thomas Abers Lourenço

Fretful, but less so when outside.

Bart Hollingsworth

Never let NO-ONE steal your joy!

Stormyweather Banks

Expect and accept unexpected and unacceptable.

Judi Gedcke

Anticipation is not just about ketchup.

Amy Hostetter

Out of everyone, I chose you.

Samantha Yanez-Chavez

you must live through the night

Leslie Loredo

Found a new mountain to scale

Melody Wren

I came, I saw, I conquered!

Sheldon Fredrickson

live. contemplate. learn. keep moving forward.

Grace Juhlin

Never really am where I want.

Irvin P. Delatorre

Ringling Bros. demise - the bookkeeper's balance

Ken Olson

Others seldom rise to my expectations.

Debra Posthumus

A reader longing for the stars.

Rajshri Thakur

Looking ahead. Looking back. No middle.

Gabe Oppenheim

My. pace. is so different…SEE?

Radall Hogue

I love being indoctrinated by you

Violette Carb

So many spaces, so few words.

Greg Djanikian

chocolate chip cookie endowment coming soon

Sarah Arkebauer

pacifist: an enemy of the state

Ken Olson

moved every year then came home.

Allison Harris

So, um, what's up with you?

Sam Donsky

Sometimes I have a good notion.

Al Filreis

I still dance to "Octopus's Garden."

Kristen Martin

I am looking for the (g)riot.

Greg Romero

Sounded much better in my head.

Chris Milione

ask me again in a month

Jessica Lowenthal

Striving to remain childLIKE not -ish

Mingo Reynolds

Train Insane or Remain the Same

a student from Mason City Schools

riverrun, Finnegans Wake unread too long the

Ryan Godfrey

Google knows me, therefore I am.

Chris Mustazza

What I didn't expect changed me.

Kathy Lou Schultz

The French: "1987--a bad vintage."

Max McKenna

Music tastes just as good as

Ben Epstein

This then

 is it

  is it ?


It took longer than I thought.

Kerry Sherin Wright

These years writing about those ones.

Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Bastard child of (moon)light laughter. Ha!

Jerry Rudasill

Slightly awkward, clumsy, asks many questions

Tahneer Oksman

Sometimes "awkward" is a good thing.

Lindsey Rosin


Wishing I could go back. Im

Lee Huttner

The experience was worth the risk.

Arielle Brousse

I can do it in five.

John Carroll

Some talent, big chip on shoulder

Sam Allingham

On second blush, it reads more

Kaegan Sparks

prone to confessions (of a variety)

Trisha Low

no rhyming. loose ends are more

Rivka Fogel

Buried all dreams, without a tear.

Farzana Ali

poetic attempts to win your favor

Michelle Newman

I made a choice about business.

Michelle Taransky


Jerry Yue Liu| 刘悦

If it's hard, am I missing something?

Chris Rippel

Are my forgotten events, still meaningful?

Chris Rippel

Finding balance between meaning vs. happiness.

Chris Rippel

Thanks for the opportunity. Choose one.

Chris Rippel

Tried not to remember but did.

Paul Hansen

He betrayed me.

Married the dog!

Patricia O'Connor

Attention all Fortnite gamers EX DEE

Justin Pelling

Change what you are complaining about.

Doug Beach


Mohnish Singh

We did not say our farewell.

Peter Schwarz

Waves of grief, drowning the soul.

Paula Wychopen

Books are not just for staring.

Iqra Azam

Constant energy that cannot be focused.

Bryan Hutchins

i see you lurking. watch This.

Trivius Caldwell

Her dreams kept her reality warm.

Lisa Anne Pottle

We all belong only to time.

Wendy Wolff

it was not right with you

Dorothea Lasky

love go up down stop forget

Seth Laracy

How to fit/function/be okay.

Emma Morgenstern

frequently "awkward" is a good thing

Lindsey Rosin

live and die by your words

Talia Stinson

I should have brought a GPS.

Karen Rile

Felled by dreams, saved by friends

Sylvie Beauvais

Eat. Shit. Fuck. Laugh. Cry. Die.

Peter Nichols

It's simpler than they tell you.

Josh Kruger

I came. I saw. I sat.

Eric Karlan

there's always something to laugh about.

Kirsten Thorpe

So many discards before sending this.

Moira Moody

This is my life right here.

Kristen Gallagher

Please do not sit on me.

Richard Lawrence

rarely lives up to her name.

Grace Ambrose

finding a way without being sorry.

Blair Borish

I stole codes reversed, ocelots. I!

Nick Montfort

I am not so easily summarized

Kayl Cecchini

At least friendships don't require visas

Janine Catalano

Brighter light makes the shadow darker.

Cindia Huang

Make lemonade when life presents them

Lyneisha Dickenson

the hits just keep on coming

Erin Gautsche

i'm not so good at following rules

Adrian Khacthu

life's an itch I can't scratch

Caitlin Hennessy

What the hell is going on?

Daniel Melamed


Never give up the struggle.

Irving Jones

I still do not regret anything.

Katie Antonsson

Yes, I have made maple syrup.

Kristen Pearson

Whats The Worst That Could Happen?

Mike VanHelder

Too many impulses, too little caffeine

Dani Blum

I must finally complete my Pokédex.

Amanda Silberling

is it love or spinal meningitis

Kimberly Lu

Be impressed, I stayed my hand.

Justin Purnell-Anglin

Always happiest with the bare minimum.

Maya Levine

Click here

Danny Snelson

One box of tissues wasn't enough.

Neha J.

Please, Time, I am not ready.

Valentina Raman

Start Faster Faster Slower Slower Stop

Chris Rippel

When will I figure it out?

Chris Rippel

If it's easy, am I missing something?

Chris Rippel

A decision was made, I complied.

Lucy Dematti

What you define as love, isn’t.

Marjorie Maine

Too happy, suicidal on the inside


My life, lived inside my head.

M. Mazloumian

What to do with word seven.

John Meo

I am this now and always.

Anita Avent

Talking without action is just complaining

Kevin Wold

Bathed dead baby while parents wept.

Kathleen Tillman RN

Teachers eating misery. Misery eating students.

Cristóbal Tabilo

Too much vanilla, not enough chocolate.

Nina Maruca

So young, and yet so damaged.

Shane Sovik

Aorta tears again and again. Reflection.

Joe Pergola

live a little, love a lot

Katie French

Afraid to write the wrong poems.

Syra Ortiz-Blanes

Kid gets magic set, pursues dream.

Gerry Katzman

new language. consulting the urban dictionary.

Ken Olson

Love, pray, wait on God's time.

Kelly Bonnickson

I never believed this would happen.

Kailey Zitaner

Still searching for that silver lining.

H.A. Nima

For sale: Wait…no I’m not!

Michele Parker Randall

Wings on feet, story in hand.

Gionni Ponce

Saved by grace, free at last.

Angela Vertucci

Dorms are weird(er) in your thirties.

Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Woof, woof! I live in Hill!


Left to seal my bastion fate

Maxwell Bolno

Oh, shit. Where are my keys?

Patricia Mary

Let go of it--it's gone.

Patricia Mary

Words were everything. Words fall apart.

Patricia Mary

Pulled between past, present, and future.

Alexandra Bousquet

That evening the sun didn't set.

Zoe Stoller

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.


Not much has changed since then.

Santiago Cortes

Maybe art school was a mistake.

Holiday Campanella

Each year balder than the last.

Donald Antenen

this is just another story! cheers!

Pablo Abrante

Up and showered, God bless steroids!!

Deirdre McCarthy

Someday soon recognizing that inaction decides.

Lauren Shapiro

Worst of all, it goes on.

Steph Barron

Wait, where did the weekend go?

Jamie Seah

Searching for profound moments of pleasure.

Montana Buss

This time, I actually hit send.

Naomi Tsai

Keep up the fight! Never qui

David Poplar

scary men become boys - superbowl champs

Ken Olson

Often, it's not what it seems.

Pallavi Wakharkar

Robin, Dylan & Poetry make me joyful.

Eric Alan Weinstein

Peer pressure made me do it

Marlene Vargas

Oh is it really time to

Bob Perelman

Used Britta, still get stomach aches

Adam Shapiro

handshakes are good, hugs are better

Sammy Krouse

Have yet to figure it out!

Cami Potter

Fighting to resist the seventh word.


Julia Levitan

The cold never bothered me anyway.

Nathaniel McLeod

Alone, stiller than a swallowed breath.

Kaitlin Moore

Blueprint as a tangle of vines.

Gina DeCagna

Please pay in coffee, chocolate, books.

Andie Davidson

Have yet to figure it out!

Cami Potter

the cucumber is full of pearls

Leah Baxter

growing up failed expectations. stay young

Harry Thu

I am not defined by words.

Sarah Di Fede

Old soul, young spirit, hopeful heart.

Sarah Di Fede

Beats by Dre, Capital by Marx

Max Karpinski

Survived dog attack, Beatlemania and egomania.

Catherine Palmer

Transfigurations all days, only for fun.

Gerardo Manuel Padrón Ortiz

You can, you can't, you can.

Georgia Renouf

Giving killing loving educated believed succeeded.

Selema Molopa

Dream it.

Believe it. Build it.

Anthony LaFlamme

Plenty diapers, smiles, hugs, and kisses.

Megan Coleman, Teen Mom​

Too much life. Too few words.

Mr. Phil

Now only no past no future

Maude Bigelow

He forgot the coffee, she imploded.

Sashi Grayndler

The egg, the sperm, and then...

Larry Hoover

Explore the world, discover true beauty.

Halee McDonald


Volodymyr Knyr

Brother to guilt, lover of freedom

Elliott Walker

I don't think I understand Greek.

Elliott Glynn

Small dog; silent, mighty, deadly, farts.

Gabriela Valinho

Leave it not, Life is divine


Reality became a really sick joke.

Olivia Steber

Let's hope it's just a dream.

Kat Mason

I accidentally fed the dog twice.

Ashlyn Dixon

In the center of it all.

Malia Jeffers

Education: formal, informal, advance up ladder.

Doris Knibbs Stienstra

Boy, girl, marriage, honeymoon, pregnancy, miscarriage.

Darrell Davis

My beer tastes like saw dust.

Will Wright

Devasted daughter wanted pancakes, not waffles.

Jen Mayberry


we can make change

Martha Wessell

Be ultimately stronger than your excuses.

Omar Obaidullah

Some dreams suffer a slow death.

Danette Mitchell

Karma, it will get you everytime

Alivia Lozano

"I know. You were the one."

Damiana Andonova

People like to push my buttons.

Kevin B. Saunders

The waterproof mascara was a lie.

Tianyi Huang

Is this insomnia or God's will?

Victoria Llanos

Rhythm and poetry defeats all genres.

Jynaiya Grizzle

Crying under a table in Commons

Peter LaBerge

She moves, but is she alive?

Emily French

Is God on a lunch break?

Kristen St Louis

Unknown heroes rising to new heights!

Valerie Krentz

Lawn Roller Skating: a bad idea.

Tara K. Torme

Her heart and mind never agree.

Lilinoe Sheridan

Open heart prickles with unmet expectations.

Lucy Garrick

Realizing I deserved better changed everything.

Zoe M.

Loss, Struggle, Acceptance, Relapse, Weakness, Death

Alex Knebel

They don't know I'm the alpha.

Avery Lolar

My life? A study in contrasts.

Minda Lane

2022 - Example of a Six Word Memoir and how to write a Fantastic One.

In this post, we’re going to explore the sorts of example of a six word memoir, and how you can write your own new 6 word memoirs. And, for the avoidance of doubt 2022 refers to the year, rather than the number of memoirs on offer!

And don’t forget that you can enter your Six Word Memoirs into the Six Word Wonder contest.

What is the meaning of memoir?

Before we think about examples of six word memoirs, we should consider what a memoir actually is.

Memoir comes from the French word, mémoire, and back to the Latin memoria. This is the same stem as memory. 

A memoir is a personal account of their past. So, a memoir is a form to autobiography.

Wikipeida describe a memoir as “any nonfiction narrative writing based in the author’s personal memories.” Google Dictionary says a memoir is “an autobiography or a written account of one’s memory of certain events or people.”

What is a 6 Word Memoir?

A six word memoir is an autobiography of your life, told in only six words. An example of a six word memoir might be:

Dreamed of flying. Still do, inside.

Six-word memoirs can expand to an entire life or take the tiniest moment in a person’s life to illustrate a broader story. You are trying to sum up your life in a sentence.

A six word memoir should be personal, thoughtful, and honest. But remember, those 6 words don’t have to be serious. The style should represent your personality. If you are the class clown, there’s no need for a deep and severe memoir. Instead, it can light, sharp, or funny.  The best memoirs capture the essence of a person in the magic of the language used.  

Using 6 words to describe your life

Okay, six words isn’t much. Any example of a six word memoir is only going to be an element of every breath you’ve taken. You have more toes than words allowed. But there are over 1 million words in the English language, so at least you have a few options.

The secret is to select exactly the right words, the perfect words, to describe your unique life. In combination, six words theoretically gives you 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 combinations of words. And that’s only if you don’t repeat any! Ok, so you can definitely find a combination of words that is unique to you.

Take words, play with them, and capture an essence of your life.

Are Six Word Memoirs like an obituary?

When the rich and famous die, a obituary is often written to encapsulate their life. Often the more important you were, the longest your obituary.

Some people think of their six word memoir as what they imagine, or would like, their obituary to read. 

You can also think of this as what you might like written on your gravestone.

Don’t think of this morbidly. Your obituary can be joyful, or dry, or tongue-in-cheek. Whatever you feel best sums you up.

An example of a six word memoir obituary might be Eric Morecambe’s classic:

I told you I was ill.

How to write a Six Word Memoir

Summarize your life, in a way that make sense to the reader, using only six words.

This is the simple task you are challenged to follow. But to really get the best and most insightful memoir, you should:

  • think deeply about who you are – things you’ve done, your personality, your likes and dislikes
  • think about how other people see you 
  • experiment with your words, language, syntax, and punctuation.

Don’t settle for your first attempt. The secret to writing a great six word memoir is to try out many angles to home in on who you really are.

Here’s a step-by-step example of how to write a great six word memoir

  1. Find a place you won’t be disturbed for ten minutes.
  2. Take out a pen and paper, or a screen and keyboard.
  3. Do a ‘First Burst’ of ideas. Try to write as many different ideas out as possible. You’re aim here is not to reach perfection straight away. The aim is to empty your head of all your possible ideas. These don’t have to be six words in length. You could just write a single phrase, a word, or a memory.
  4. Now, add to your first burst. Now, jot down more ideas by answering these questions in just a few words:
    • What characteristics best define you?
    • What are your likes and dislikes? 
    • How would your parents describe you? Your teacher? Your boss? You best friend? Your worst enemy? Your family?
    • What are your proudest achievements? Or your biggest failures?
    • Where’s your happy place? And where are you least comfortable?
    • What are you great at doing? What do you wish you were great at doing? 
  5. You should now have filled a page (or pages) with ideas. Now, go back through what you’ve written. Look for connections and patterns. Look for words you are drawn to. Look to what phrases trigger emotions on you.  Highlight words. Move them around. Gather together the themes and repeated tropes.
  6. Now pick a word or phrase you found most interesting, and write five six word phrases that might explain to a reader what you mean. 
  7. Edit. Cut out superfluous words. Consider alternative order. Punctation. Synonyms and different words. 
  8. Narrow down your ideas to a final shortlist of memoirs you are most happy with. The ones that speak to you, or just feel right. 
  9. Share these memoirs with people you trust. Ask for their feedback.

Why use only 6 words for my memoir?

There are examples of memoirs that run to a thousand pages. There is no real limit to how many words can be written about a person.  

Six words has been found, through a lot of trial and error, to be close to the shortest amount of words that can be used to get to the heart of someone.   

Sure, there are shorter phrases. Famously, “Jesus wept,” could be an even shorter biographical summation of His life.  But getting six words allows you to expand to this example of a six word memoir:

“Born. Preached. Inspired. Betrayed. Crucified. Resurrected.”

Now, we’re getting some real detail and evolution in the story of the son of God.

By setting a fixed allotment of six words, it really forces you to think and challenge yourself. Also, for the reader, it keeps things pithy and to the point. It is very difficult to waffle on or ramble with only six words to play with.

Do you have to be old to write six word memoirs?

Now, you don’t need to have lived a long life to write a 6 word memoir. Anyone can do it. Whether you are a middle-grader or an octogenarian, you have a deep well of experience to draw from. Your personality change over time and so may the story of your life.

What’s the difference between a Six Word Memoir and a Six Word Poem, Story, or Joke?

Six Word Wonders is the phrase we use to cover all the different types of message that can be communicated in just six words.

Many people get confused about the difference between a memoir and some of the other major forms of six word phrases, like poems, story or jokes.

The reality is, the different varieties of six word wonder overlap. A six word memoir may also be poetic, or tell a story, or sometimes have a punchline like a joke. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, a hybrid of styles can make memoirs more interesting and engaging.

You know the truth of whether a six word memoir reflects your personal history and reality. Your reader can’t read your mind, so they can’t be certain if what you’ve written truly reflects your truth. 

Example of a six word memoir that is also a story

“Desired. Hired. Eventually tired, then retired.”

Six word stories tell a narrative, taking readers on a journey from one place to another.  Here we see the main character initially wanted, eventually grows old and ends work. Hopefully the retirement is a happy ending!

Example of a six word memoir that is also poetry

“You, became we, became a family.

Six word poetry communicates feelings and ideas with a special intensity, with a distinctive style and rhythm.  In the above example, an individual memoir becomes poetry thanks to the rhythm of the words, of the structure moving from one word, to two, to three as the family growths. There is also an internal rhyme between “we” and “family”.

Example of a six word memoir that is also a joke

“Well, I thought I was funny.” – Stephen Colbert

Six word jokes are intended to make you laugh. Colbert’s meta-memoir-joke hybrid reflects his own sense of irony. His memoir reads like something that might be chiseled on his gravestone.

Can a Six Word Memoir be about another person?

Many memoirs are personal and autobiographical.  But, it is also quite possible and interesting to write someone else’s biography as a six word memoir.

Pick a famous or infamous person or event. Put yourself in their shoes, and see if you can write a memoir from their perspective.

Example of Six Word Memoirs as biography

“Painted sunflowers. Severed ear. Died alone.”

In this example of a six word memoir of Vincent Van Gogh you only see a high level selection of moments from his life. Of course, a mere 6 words can’t capture everything. But maybe in these words there is an essence of truth hidden here.

“Tasted the apple. . . then got naked.”

Even fictional characters like Adam and Eve can get their own biography. This story is obviously being playful about the fun to be had in the garden of Eden.

“Ted. Underestimated. Celebrated. Elevated. Venerated. Assassinated.”

This story of Ted Kennedy uses six punchy words to take you step by step through periods of his life. With the added bonus of a strong word structure and rhyme.

More examples of six word memoirs

Here, each sample of a six word memoir is intended to start your imagination to come up with your own. Consider the form of the memoirs. Are they one sentence or several? Do they include elements of poetry, or story, or jokes, or all three? Do you know what the writer means? What message they are trying to get across? Do you think each example of a six word memoir was successful? Why or why not?

“Voice of angel. Face of snail.”

“Under the make-up, I was beautiful.”

“No morning aches? Check my pulse!”

“I learned to love, too late”

“Made it all afternoon without snoozing.”

“Only my son still remembers me.”

“We danced from dusk to daylight.”

“Nightmares came. I welcomed them in.”

“Met boy. Slapped boy. Left boy.”

“Realised life should just be kittens.”

“If that was love, I’m sorry.”

“My Miami Vices: burgers and fries.”

“First test I ever failed: Covid.”

“New clothes. New body. Same halitosis.”

“Last words: Is the iron unplugged?”

“With every word, I understood less.”

“Wanted to end, but held on.

“Alone, in bed, I hear breathing.”

“My life is laundry. Rinsed. Repeat.”

“…Woke. Washed. Worked. Went out. Woke…”

Examples of Six-Word Memoirs from Reddit

You can find lots of six word memoirs and stories on Reddit’s forum.  Here’s a selection of the best

Is For Sale: Baby Shoes: Never Worn an example of a six-word memoir?

Many people’s first introduction to the six word format is the famous newspaper add (or is it Ebay these days)

“For Sale: Baby Shoes: Never Worn”

But is it a memoir? Maybe. When we read the story we get a dramatic vision of who the person selling the booties might be, why they were never worn, and why the author might be selling them.

So the six-worder undoubtedly tells the reader a narrative story.  The distinction for a memoir here is whether its autobiographical, a memory, or whether this is the truth one person has used to summarize their life.

Nobody has definitively proved who originally wrote Baby Shoes. Although the rumour the Ernst Hemmingway wrote it have been debunked. As a result, we will probably never know for certain if this was really a true memoir, a fictional memoir, or simply a fascinating story. 

If you think it does a job of summing up a person’s life, then it has done its job as a memoir.

Example of a six word memoir – TL/DR

Your life-story in 6 words.

Where to find more examples of Six Word Memoirs?

Hopefully, each example of a six word memoir included here has given you ideas of writing your own. One of the best ways to learn more about these little life stories is to read about them. As part of the Six Word Wonder series, we now have three books including six word stories, poems, jokes, and importantly, memoirs.

 Six Word Wonder, Six Word Story, and Six Word Stories are all available on Amazon.

I’ve written my own six word memoir. Now what?

If you have written a six word memoir you are proud of, share it with the world. Show it to your family and friends. Blog about it. Tweet it. Make it an Instagram. Add it to a six word memoir or stories Reddit board.

And why not enter it in the Six Word Wonder contest. Its free to enter, and gives you the chance to get recognition and even publication of your mini-autobiography.

10 tips on how to write a book

Aspiring Writers' Guide

If you want to create strong texts or dream of writing a book - whether you are a novice blogger or an experienced author - remember: it is better to learn from word masters. We chose tips from ten great books on writing. You will learn how to deal with creative stagnation and uncertainty. Why read books and not copy the style of the greats. The tips are suitable for both future authors and those who simply love great texts.

1. Write in small portions (from Bird by Bird)

It often happens like this: you are plotting an autobiographical novel about your own childhood, or a play about the life of immigrants, or a treatise about . .. well, let's say, the role of a woman in history. But tackling it right away is like climbing the slope of a glacier. Feet slip, fingers turn red, freeze, blood oozes from wounds. Then, from the depths of the subconscious, all your nervous breakdowns come to visit and sit around the table. Don't give them power.

“I breathe slowly and deeply — and finally I notice a five by eight centimeter photo frame, which I have specially placed on my desk to remember about small doses. The frame reminds me: I need to write a piece. Small, like a five by eight photograph. That's all for today. Right now, for example, I will write only one paragraph about the place and time of the action" Ann Lamott.

Say to yourself softly and affectionately: “My joy, we will just write about the river at sunset or about the first date.
That's it."

2. Make sure your topic is interesting to the reader (from the book "Author, Scissors, Paper")

"What can I tell you? Who am i? Why should someone waste time and even more money on me? These questions are asked by any author. First you need to realize: each person has something to tell.

First, determine what kind of topic you have: popular or specialized, for an amateur or a person in the topic. Who do you want to tell your story to? Who will benefit from it? Do you want to educate a wide range of readers or improve the lives of professionals in some field? It is impossible to please both at the same time.

Cool story is always there. Inside the fate, your personal history, there is a rhyme somewhere: a meeting, an event that you just need to remember - and in your imagination the process of creating a story starts.

And even personal experience is not always needed. There are simple criteria for selecting and analyzing whether your topic is suitable for public appearance:

- the text should report something very important,

- non-trivial to explain important processes,

- to be keenly useful to the reader,

- substantiate a fresh pattern that concerns the reader and give it a name,

- tell the story of a bright hero.

The reader is waiting for you to take him out of the routine into an unknown world for a long time. So create this world in such a way that you want to stay in it.

3. Make a "good novel" checklist (from the book "Literary Marathon")

If you have a desire to create your own novel, the first thing to do would be to understand what "a good novel" means to you. Answer this question in writing.

You can answer vaguely, or you can answer in great detail: first-person narration, superheroes, the Alps, massive invasions of evil elves.

Why is this list useful? The point is, if something is your reading preference, then you can probably excel as a writer as well. These language, color, and style choices resonate with you the most for some reason. These are things that you understand.

You can create such checklists for what you have to write most often - articles, reviews, reports.


Use hooks in text (from Living Text)

There are many ways to get started. Some work great in one book but don't work at all in another. You have to choose. Know how to choose.

For example, the False Prologue technique. Here the climactic scene is removed from the middle/end of the book and placed at the beginning.

So the reader immediately "tastes" the main and dramatic event of the whole story.

This technique is popular with directors: thanks to it, the film can be started with a tense, spectacular scene. Examples of books with "false prologue": Gabriel Garcia Marquez "One Hundred Years of Solitude", Stephenie Meyer "The Twilight Saga" (book 1), Emily Bronte "Wuthering Heights".

5. Use the board with cards (from Save the Cat!)

Screenwriter Blake Snyder's technique is a cork board and cards. Hang a large cork board on the wall, take cards with episodes, blocks, fragments of your future text (novel, article, report) and use pushpins to attach these cards to the board wherever you like. You can never part with cards at all. You put a pack of cards in your pocket, go to the nearest coffee shop, take out a pack and sit for hours shuffling your deck, laying out episodes, thinking about the sequence, looking for good and bad moments.

The whiteboard allows you to "see" the big picture before you even start writing.

This is a good way to test the different twists, ideas, dialogues, and rhythm of the story and see how well they fit together. This is a way to render text with good structure. It's great!


Don't write like you talk! (from How to Write Non-Fiction)

You need to write clearly, but you should not blindly copy all the elements of oral speech. If we accurately and literally transfer ordinary everyday conversations to paper, we will see how many repetitions there are, inserts like mmm and uh-huh, how often the interlocutors interrupt each other.

“Readers need clarity.

Written words come together and make sense in the mind of the reader. Try to mimic the tone of a personal conversation. So the reader will "hear" your voice, as if you are addressing him, only without the noise that accompanies oral communication.


Read like a writer (from How to Become a Writer)

Many would-be writers are bookworms. However, the thought of looking at great books under a microscope often disgusts them. But once you learn how to read critically, you will enjoy a much more subtle pleasure than ordinary readers.

Learn to go through the text at least twice. First just like that, and then with a pencil. Notice the rhythm, episodes and scenes, pay attention to words, phrases, stylistic devices.

Don't worry: you won't lose your love for books, quite the contrary. It is impossible to overestimate the benefits of analytical reading.

8. Show, don't tell (from the book "Literary Master Class")

Don't write "it was amazing", but make us say "amazing" after reading the passage. The fact is that all these words (terrifying, beautiful, disgusting, exquisite) tell the reader only one thing: “Do my job for me!” Clive Lewis advised.

Mark Twain taught the same thing: "Don't say, 'The old woman screamed.' Take her on stage and make her scream."

And one more remark on the same subject, from Chekhov:

... you will get a moonlit night if you write that a glass from a broken bottle flashed like a bright star on the mill dam ...

It is necessary to show, not tell, selecting bright, specific details.

9. Find visual aids (from How to Write a Movie in 21 Days)

Have you ever tried to tell someone about your terrible or, conversely, amazing experience, but could not find the words? It all ended with something like “I can’t explain this to you” or “If you were in my place, you would understand.” The thing is, first you need to re-ignite this feeling inside, and then find the right words to describe it.

Find an object that is related to some of your experiences, evokes feelings, such as a lucky coin or a rock from the beach.

If this is a story about your grandfather, you can take his hat from an old chest. If you are writing a story about your grandmother, find the candlestick that belonged to her. If you came up with your own story when you heard a song in a restaurant, take a napkin from that restaurant and listen to that tune again.

Help your feelings to reappear, find helpers for this. Maybe some color will ignite an emotion in you.

10. Ready. Attention. Word sprint! (from the book "Start to write")

This technique teaches you to write without waiting for inspiration. Pick a topic, set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes, and write. If there are problems with the topic, open any book on page 17 and find line 6. This will be your theme.

As time passes, it is important not to hesitate. Let your thoughts run like hounds. Write with a sense of urgency.

Jump over the taboos, illuminate every stray, lonely thought in your head and let it break free.

Verbal sprint helps to turn off value judgment by entering the intuition stream to which high-speed writing is connected.

“Your newsletter is so cool, you don’t even have to buy a book” — say our subscribers. Do you also want to learn about new books about creativity, writing, design? Then leave your mail, we will send you useful inspiring reviews.

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Word games • Arzamas

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"Hat", "telegrams", "MPS" and other games that require almost nothing but company and a desire to have a good time

Author Lev Gankin

Primer “A. B. C. Trim, alphabet enchanté. Illustrations by Bertal. France, 1861 Wikimedia Commons

Oral games


Game for a big company. The host briefly leaves the room, during which time the rest decide which of those present they will guess (this may be the host himself). Upon returning, the player asks the others questions - what flower do you associate this person with, what vehicle, what part of the body, what kitchen utensils, etc. - in order to understand who is hidden. Questions can be very different - this is not limited by anything other than the imagination of the players. Since associations are an individual matter and an exact match may not happen here, it is customary to give the guesser two or three attempts. If the company is small, you can expand the circle of mutual acquaintances who are not present at that moment in the room, although the classic version of "associations" is still a hermetic game.

Game of P

A game for a company of four people, an interesting variation on the "hat" theme (see below), but does not require any special accessories. One player guesses a word to another, which he must explain to the others, but he can only use words starting with the letter "p" (any, except for the same root). That is, the word "house" will have to be explained, for example, as follows: "I built - I live." If you couldn’t guess right away, you can throw up additional associations: “building, premises, space, the simplest concept ...” And at the end add, for example, “Perignon” - by association with Dom Perignon champagne. If the guessers are close to winning, then the facilitator will need comments like “about”, “approximately”, “almost right” - or, in the opposite situation: “bad, wait!”. Usually, after the word is guessed, the explainer comes up with a new word and whispers it into the ear of the guesser - he becomes the next leader.

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Primer "A. B. C. Trim, alphabet enchanté. Illustrations by Bertal. France, 1861 Wikimedia Commons
Say the Same Thing

An upbeat and fast-paced game for two, named after a video clip by the inventive rock band OK Go, from which many people learned about it (the musicians even developed a mobile application that helps to play it from a distance, although it is currently unavailable). The meaning of the game is that on the count of one-two-three each of the players pronounces a randomly chosen word. Further, the goal of the players is, with the help of successive associations, to come to a common denominator: for the next time, two or three, both pronounce a word that is somehow connected with the previous two, and so on until the desired coincidence occurs. Suppose the first player said the word "house" and the second player said the word "sausage"; in theory, they can coincide very soon, if on the second move after one-two-three both say "store". But if one says “shop”, and the other says “refrigerator” (why not a sausage house?), then the game can drag on, especially since it’s impossible to repeat - neither the store nor the refrigerator will fit, and you will have to think, say, before "refrigerator" or "IKEI". If the original words are far from each other (for example, "curb" and "weightlessness"), then the gameplay becomes completely unpredictable.


A game for the company (the ideal number of players is from four to ten), which requires from the participants not only a good imagination, but also, preferably, a little bit of acting skills. As usual, one of the players briefly leaves the room, and while he is gone, the rest come up with a word, the number of letters in which matches the number of participants remaining in the room. Next, the letters are distributed among the players, and a character is invented for each of them (therefore, words that contain "b", "s" or "b" do not fit). Until the word is guessed, the players behave in accordance with the chosen character - the leader's task is to understand exactly what characters his partners portray and restore the hidden word. Imagine, for example, that a company consists of seven people. One leaves, the rest come up with a six-letter word "old man" and distribute roles among themselves: the first, say, will be with indoor, the second - t erpel, the third - a secondary, the fourth - p asylum, the fifth - and mane and sixth - to ovary. The returning player is greeted by a cacophony of voices - the company "lives" their roles until they are unraveled, and the host asks the players questions that help reveal their image. The only condition is that as soon as the presenter pronounces the correct character - for example, guesses the insidious one - he must admit that his incognito has been revealed and announce the number of his letter (in the word "old man" - the sixth).

Primer "A. B. C. Trim, alphabet enchanté. Illustrations by Bertal. France, 1861 Wikimedia Commons
Recognize the song

A game for a company of four to five people. The host leaves, and the remaining players choose a well-known song and distribute its words among themselves - each word. For example, the song “Let there always be sun” is guessed: one player gets the word “let”, the second - “always”, the third - “will be”, the fourth - “sun”. The host returns and begins to ask questions - the most varied and unexpected: "What is your favorite city?", "Where does the Volga flow?", "What to do and who is to blame?". The task of the respondents is to use their own word in the answer and try to do it in such a way that it does not stand out too much; you need to answer quickly and not very extensively, but not necessarily truthfully. Answers to questions in this case can be, for example, “It’s hard for me to choose one city, but let today it will be Rio de Janeiro" or "Volga - into the Caspian, but this does not happen always , every third year it flows into the Black". The presenter must catch which word is superfluous in the answer and guess the song. They often play with lines from poetry rather than from songs.


A game for four people divided into pairs (in principle, there can be three or four pairs). The mechanics is extremely simple: the first player from the first pair whispers a word (a common noun in the singular) into the ear of the first player from the second pair, then they must take turns calling their associations with this word (in the same form - common nouns; cognate words cannot be used ). After each association, the teammate of the player who voiced it calls out his word, trying to guess if it was originally guessed - and so on, until the problem is solved by someone; at the same time, all associations already sounded in the game can be used in the future, adding one new one at each move. For example, suppose there are players A and B on one team, and C and D on the other. Player A whispers the word "old man" into player C's ear. Player C says aloud to his partner D: "age". If D immediately answers "old man", then the pair of C and D scores a point, but if he says, for example, "youth", then the move goes to player A, who, using the word "age" suggested by C (but discarding the irrelevant to the case "youth" from D), says to his partner B: "age, man." Now B will probably guess the old man - and his team with A will already earn a point. But if he says "teenager" (thinking that it is about the age when boys turn into men), then C, to whom the move suddenly returned, will say " age, man, eightieth birthday”, and here, probably, “old man” will be guessed. In one of the variants of the game, it is also allowed to "shout": this means that, having suddenly guessed what was meant, the player can shout out the option not on his turn. If he guessed right, his team will get a point, but if he rushed to conclusions, the team will lose a point. They usually play up to five points.

Primer "A. B. C. Trim, alphabet enchanté. Illustrations by Bertal. France, 1861 Wikimedia Commons

Game for a big company. Here we are forced to warn readers that, having seen this text in full, you will never be able to drive again - the game is one-time.

Spoiler →

First, the player who gets to drive leaves the room. When he returns, he must find out what MPS means - all that is known in advance is that the bearer of this mysterious abbreviation is present in the room right now. To find out the correct answer, the driver can ask other players questions, the answers to which should be formulated as “yes” or “no”: “Does he have blond hair?”, “Does he have blue eyes?”, “Is this a man?”, “He in jeans?", "Does he have a beard?"; moreover, each question is asked to a specific player, and not to all at once. Most likely, it will quickly become clear that there is simply no person in the room who meets all the criteria; Accordingly, the question arises, according to what principle the players give answers. "Opening" this principle will help answer the main question - what is MPS. The Ministry of Railways is not the Ministry of Communications at all, but m oy p equal s seated (that is, each player always describes the person sitting to his right). Another option is COP, to then to answered to last (that is, everyone talks about who answered the previous question).


A simple game that can be played with a group of three or more people. One thinks of a word (noun, common noun, singular) and calls its first letter aloud, the task of the others is to guess the word, remembering other words with this letter, asking questions about them and checking if the presenter guessed. The facilitator's task is not to reveal the next letters in the word to the players for as long as possible. For example, a word with the letter "d" is guessed. One of the players asks the question: “Is this by chance not the place where we live?” This is where the fun begins: the host must figure out as quickly as possible what the player means and say “No, this is not“ house ”” (well, or, if it was a“ house ”, honestly admit it). But in parallel, other players also think the same thing, and if they understand what “house” means before the leader, then they say: “contact” or “there is contact”, and start counting up to ten in chorus (while the count is going on, the presenter still has a chance to escape and guess what it is about!), and then they call the word. If at least two matched, that is, at the expense of ten they said “house” in chorus, the presenter must reveal the next letter, and the new guesser version will already begin with the now known letters “d” + the next one. If it was not possible to beat the host on this question, then the guessers offer a new option. Of course, it makes sense to complicate the definitions, and not ask everything directly - so the question about "home" would sound better like "Is this not where the sun rises?" (with a reference to the famous song "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals). Usually, the one who eventually gets to the searched word (names it or asks a question leading to victory) becomes the next leader.

Primer "A. B. C. Trim, alphabet enchanté. Illustrations by Bertal. France, 1861 Wikimedia Commons

Writing games


Not the fastest, but extremely exciting game for a company of four people - you will need pens, paper and some kind of encyclopedic dictionary (preferably not limited thematically - that is, TSB is better than a conditional "biological encyclopedia"). The host finds a word in the encyclopedia that is unknown to anyone present (here it remains to rely on their honesty - but cheating in this game is uninteresting and unproductive). The task of each of the players is to write an encyclopedic definition of this word, inventing its meaning from the head and, if possible, disguising the text as a real small encyclopedic article. The presenter, meanwhile, carefully rewrites the real definition from the encyclopedia. After that, the “articles” are shuffled and read out by the presenter in random order, including the real one, and the players vote for which option seems most convincing to them. In the end, the votes are counted and points are distributed. Any player receives a point for correctly guessing the real definition and one more point for each vote given by other participants to his own version. After that, the sheets are distributed back and a new word is played out - there should be about 6-10 of them in total. You can also play this game in teams: come up with imaginary definitions collectively. The game "poems" is arranged in a similar way - but instead of a compound word, the host selects two lines from some little-known poem in advance and invites the participants to add quatrains.

Game from Inglourious Basterds

A game for a company of any size that many knew before the Quentin Tarantino film, but it does not have a single name. Each player invents a role for his neighbor (usually it is some famous person), writes it on a piece of paper and sticks the piece of paper on his neighbor's forehead: accordingly, everyone sees what role someone has, but does not know who they are. The task of the participants is, with the help of leading questions, the answers to which are formulated as “yes” or “no” (“Am I a historical figure?”, “Am I a cultural figure?”, “Am I a famous athlete?”), to find out who exactly they are. In this form, however, the game exhausts itself rather quickly, so you can come up with completely different themes and instead of famous people play, for example, in professions (including exotic ones - "carousel", "taxidermist"), in film and literary heroes (you can mix them with real celebrities, but it’s better to agree on this in advance), food (one player will be risotto, and the other, say, green cabbage soup) and even just items.

Primer "A. B. C. Trim, alphabet enchanté. Illustrations by Bertal. France, 1861 Wikimedia Commons
Bulls and cows

A game for two: one participant thinks of a word, and it is agreed in advance how many letters should be in it (usually 4-5). The task of the second is to guess this word by naming other four- or five-letter words; if some letters of the named word are in the hidden one, they are called cows, and if they have the same place inside the word, then these are bulls. Let's imagine that the word "eccentric" is conceived. If the guesser says “dot”, then he receives an answer from the second player: “three cows” (that is, the letters “h”, “k” and “a”, which are in both “eccentric” and “dot”, but in different places). If he then says "head of head", he will no longer get three cows, but two cows and one bull - since the letter "a" in both "eccentric" and "head" is in the fourth position. As a result, sooner or later, it is possible to guess the word, and the players can change places: now the first one will guess the word and count the bulls and cows, and the second one will name his options and track the extent to which they coincide with the one guessed. You can also complicate the process by simultaneously guessing your own word and guessing the opponent's word.


Writing game for the company (but you can also play together), consisting of three rounds, each for five minutes. In the first, players randomly type thirteen letters (for example, blindly poking a book page with their finger) and then form words from them, and only long ones - from five letters. In the second round, you need to choose a syllable and remember as many words as possible that begin with it, you can use single-root ones (for example, if the syllable "house" is selected, then the words "house", "domra", "domain", "domain", "brownie", "housewife", etc.). Finally, in the third round, the syllable is taken again, but now you need to remember not ordinary words, but the names of famous people of the past and present in which it appears, and not necessarily at the beginning - that is, both Karamzin and McCartney will fit the syllable "kar" , and, for example, Hamilcar. An important detail: since this round provokes the most disputes and scams, game participants can ask each other to prove that this person is really a celebrity, and here you need to remember at least the profession and country. Typical dialogue: "What, you don't know Hamilcar? But this is a Carthaginian commander!” After each round, points are counted: if a particular word is the same for all players, it is simply crossed out, in other cases, players are awarded as many points for it as the opponents could not remember it. In the first round, you can still add points for especially long words. Based on the results of the rounds, it is necessary to determine who took the first, second, third and other places, and add up these places at the end of the game. The goal is to get the smallest number at the output (for example, if you were the winners of all three rounds, then you will get the number 3 - 1 + 1 + 1, and you are the champion; less cannot be purely mathematical).

Primer "A. B. C. Trim, alphabet enchanté. Illustrations by Bertal. France, 1861 Wikimedia Commons

A game for any number of people, which was invented by one of the creators of the Kaissa chess program and the author of the anagram search program Alexander Bitman. First, the players choose several consonants - this will be the frame, the skeleton of the word. Then the time is recorded (two or three minutes), and the players begin to “stretch” vowels (as well as “й”, “ь”, “ъ”) onto the frame to make existing words. Consonants can be used in any order, but only once, and vowels can be added in any number. For example, players choose the letters "t", "m", "n" - then the words "fog", "cloak", "mantle", "coin", "darkness", "ataman", "dumbness" and other. The winner is the one who can come up with more words (as usual, these should be common nouns in the singular). The game can be played even with one letter, for example, "l". The words “silt”, “lay”, “yula”, “aloe”, “spruce” are formed around it, and if we agree that the letter can be doubled, “alley” and “lily”. If the standard "framework" is mastered, then the task may be to compose a whole phrase with one consonant: a textbook example from the book by Evgeny Gik - "Bobby, kill the boy and beat the woman at the baobab."

Chain of words

Game for any number of players. Many people know it under the name "How to make an elephant out of a fly", and it was invented by the writer and mathematician Lewis Carroll, the author of "Alice". The “chain” is based on metagram words, that is, words that differ by only one letter. The task of the players is to turn one word into another with the least number of intermediate links. For example, let's make a "goat" from a "fox": FOX - LINDE - PAW - KAPA - KARA - KORA - GOAT. It is interesting to give tasks with a plot: so that the “day” turns into “night”, the “river” becomes the “sea”. The well-known chain, where the "elephant" grows out of the "fly", is obtained in 16 moves: FLY - MURA - TURA - TARA - KARA - KARE - CAFE - KAFR - MURDER - KAYUK - HOOK - URIK - LESSON - TERM - DRAIN - STON - ELEPHANT (example of Evgeny Gik). For training, you can compete in the search for metagrams for any word. For example, the word "tone" gives "sleep", "background", "current", "tom", "tan" and so on - whoever scores more options wins.

Primer "A. B. C. Trim, alphabet enchanté. Illustrations by Bertal. France, 1861 Wikimedia Commons

A game for a company of four people, requiring simple equipment: pens, paper and a “hat” (an ordinary plastic bag will do). Sheets of paper need to be torn into small pieces and distributed to the players, the number of pieces depends on how many people are playing: the larger the company, the less for each. Players write words on pieces of paper (one for each piece of paper) and throw them into the "hat". There are also options here - you can play just with words (noun, common noun, singular), or you can play with famous people or literary characters. Then the participants are divided into teams - two or more people each; the task of each - in 20 seconds (or 30, or a minute - the timing can be set at your own choice) to explain to your teammates the largest number of words arbitrarily pulled out of the "hat", without using the same root. If the driver could not explain a word, it returns to the hat and will be played by the other team. At the end of the game, the words guessed by different representatives of the same team are summed up, their number is counted, and the team that has more pieces of paper is awarded the victory. A popular version of the game: everything is the same, but in the first round the players explain the words (or describe the characters) orally, in the second round they show in pantomime, in the third round they explain the same words in one word. And recently a board game has appeared, where you need not only to explain and show, but also to draw.


Game for any number of players. The players choose a word, for each letter of which they will need to come up with a part of the telegram - the first letter will be the beginning of the first word, the second - the second, and so on. For example, the word "fork" is selected. Then the following message can become a telegram: “The camel is healed. I'm flying a crocodile. Aibolit". Another round of the game is the addition of genres. Each player gets the task to write not one, but several telegrams from the same word - business, congratulatory, romantic (the types of messages are agreed in advance). Telegrams are read aloud, the next word is chosen.

even more different games for one or a company

Home games

Shadow theater, crafts and paper dolls from children's books and magazines of the XIX-XX centuries Ring and other games

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