Just six words, and no more

There’s no avoiding the vogue for attempting to express a complete narrative, or life story, or epitome of one’s identity, into six words.

There is a book by Larry Smith, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, and the Internet is made for such crazes. BoingBoing, for example, has a page on which contributors are welcome.

Not surprisingly, this has captured the attention of members of the American Copy Editors Society. After all, when your 3,500-word masterwork comes lumbering to the desk, it is the copy editor who will have to reduce it to an essence of six words or so for the headline (with a fair likelihood that those are the only six words associated with the story that most customers will ever read).

So they have taken to it, and I can only stand, hat in hand, in mute admiration of Allan Wishart, or VanderViking, of the Vanderhoof Omineca Express, Vanderhoof, B.C., whose sublime entry encapsulates the life of the copy editor:

Edited it down to five.



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