WriterLarry Smith likes to tell stories in six words.  He devised an easy literary style for non-writers and writers a like to express funny, nuanced, and even meaningful ideas in just six word long sentences. Since 2008 he has been collecting six word stories from people and publishing them in a series of bestselling books. The newest book in Smith’s six-word series is, Best Advice in Six Words.

He joined Boston Public Radio Wednesday to talk about the book.

Questions are paraphrased, and responses are edited where noted [...].

Where did you get the idea for six word stories?

The idea for the Six Word Memoir and now Six Word Advice comes from the literary legend that I’m sure a lot of your listeners know. As the story goes, Hemingway was once challenged to write a whole novel in just six words. ‘For sale, baby shoes never worn.’... I just kind of threw up this challenge on a tiny little website. Hey Hemingway did this thing with six words. I’m really into personal true story telling. I love having people tell their story. It can be hard to tell a story; blank pages are scary. So hey, take six words take a cue from Hemingway, the muscular writer, short smart sentences. Write the six-word story of your life.

What type of people are submitting six word stories to you? How do you pick which ones to use for the books?

So there is a 1,000 pieces of six-word advice in the book.  900 from people who came to my website who have never written a book, probably have never called into a radio show, or left a comment on a blog, are there in the book. Then I kind of talked to or approached people whose work I liked. Whether that’s Amanda Palmer, who says, 'If it frightens you do it,' or Mario Batali, 'Sometimes on low others on high,'

You get a little bit of the precious stuff, those maxims maybe your yoga teacher says it to you before class, and then you get some really funny stuff, but ultimately you hit the mental like button or don’t like button.

Has spending so much time writing and reading six word stories affected the way you communicate?

I think my brain has probably changed. For one thing, people send me a lot of six word emails and texts because they thing its funny. I appreciate it because let’s get to the point.  I’ll tell you a funny story. My first book came out in 2008…  seven years later we went on vacation. We all worked very hard, and we were in the water in Mexico and I thought of one, I thought of a six worder. So my wife saw my fingers come out of the water and I just hear, ‘ Stop counting, we’re on vacation.”