Short Sentences in Literature

A while back I wrote an article about appreciating some of the longer sentences in literature (you can find it here). Now I want to honor some of the writers who manage to get their points across with an economy of words.

Short sentences are great for instantly engaging the reader. Some of the most memorable sentences in literature are 10 words or less and there is a whole world of creative six word stories are all over the internet.


This one by Hemingway is still my favorite.



So, less is indeed more sometimes. Enjoy the following short sentences, sorted by word count, and if you come up with any more to add, do so in the comments below.




The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.


Samuel Beckett


The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry.

Jude the Obscure

Thomas Hardy




Death is only the beginning; afterward comes the hard part.

The Death Instinct

Jed Rubenfeld




Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.


Vladimir Nabokov


Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.

And the Mountains Echoed

Khaled Hosseini


If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.

Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy



You better not never tell nobody but God.

The Color Purple

Alice Walker






Get busy living or get busy dying.

The Shawshank Redemption

Stephen King


The curves of your lips rewrite history.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde


Be men, or be more than men.


Mary Shelly


I hope, or I could not live.

Island of Dr Moreau

H.G. Wells



All this happened, more or less.


Kurt Vonnegut




All children, except one, grow up.

Peter Pan

J.M. Barrie


After all, tomorrow is another day.

Gone with the Wind

Margaret Mitchell


A screaming comes across the sky.

Gravity’s Rainbow

Thomas Pynchon



I am an invisible man.

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison



He loved Big Brother.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

George Orwell


And one of the most famous short sentences in literature…




Moby Dick

Herman Melville


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