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How the Queen did it better than Hemingway

There is a popular myth that is embraced by teachers, academics and book lovers about Hemingway’s six-word story challenge.  It goes something like this:

Hemingway was involved in a $10 bet with some other writers who had met for lunch sometime in the 1920’s – possibly at the infamous Algonquin. He claimed he could write a novel in six words.  He allegedly wrote on a napkin:

‘For sale.  Baby Shoes. Never worn’

That’s the tale anyway, whether it is true or not is the matter of much debate.  But there is one thing we can all learn from it, that the power of great communication is about inviting your audience in, asking them to cooperate in the construction of a bigger narrative and making them interpret the story for themselves for the future.

But what took Hemingway six words, the Queen managed to do in four.  ‘We WILL meet again.’

I’m capitalising the WILL for a reason, because if ever there was a call to action to get us, the audience, to do something, it is in that use of the word WILL.  WILL says that we will want to meet again – a need from the past. WILL says that we will make it happen – an ability to deliver. And WILL says that it will happen – a moment in the future.

There was also the clever memory pull to the wartime lyrics from Force’s sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn and ‘We’ll meet again’. The reference to wartime behaviour, about fighting this disease, being united and resolute, supporting and celebrating our health services & carers, coming together and success belonging to everyone – all messages which worked to rally not just the UK but many across the globe.

It was incredibly written, from the past, present and the future, as the Queen herself alluded.

In her fifth special message to the UK public during her entire 68-year reign, the Queen is willing us to meet again and I for one, quite like the thought.

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