Story Words
Very short fiction, written on the fly, from words submitted by readers.
© 2002, 2003, 2004 Jay Lake

Friday, December 20, 2002

Reticule is a special kind of scorn delivered in small beaded bags, carried only by elderly matrons with well-armed bodyguards. Being the recipient of reticule is the country club equivalent of waking up to find a horse's head in your bed. Especially deadly reticule can include a sea horse's head inside the bag, and world-class reticule includes a river horse's head, although the beaded bag is then naturally about the size of a Volkswagen.

("Reticule" courtesy of Deanna, a fellow Kevin & Kell fan.)

Thursday, December 19, 2002

The small tool used for punching holes in things. Often used on crashing boors, flights of fancy and small problems involving corporate expense reports (but I repeat myself).

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Beatitude is a lesser known portmanteau word from the swinging Sixties, an enfolding of "Beatles" and "attitude." It arose from John Lennon's infamous remark, "We're bigger than Jesus," and refers to people who tell stories about themselves and others in order to make a point, and also to people with shaggy haircuts and Liverpool accents. See also "Sherman on the Mountain," a story of Civil War intrigue made into a film with Ringo Starr as General Sherman and Stu Sutcliffe as Jefferson Davis, filmed entirely on location in Tirana, Albania by famed German director Fassbinder.

("Beatitudes" courtesy of FrankW)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Errata is the art of titillation by mistake -- for example, when you look at a mongoose and briefly mistake it for Heather Locklear or Bobby Brown (insert gender-orientation-appropriate perception here). Famous examples of historical errata include Mata Hari's nipple, once mistaken for a ball python by the German foreign minister, and the Giant Chicken of Bristol, which was assaulted by a group of Aggies on their way to Yell Practice.

Monday, December 16, 2002

"Verbose" is a special herb grown only in deep cavern grottoes in South Seas atolls. Harvested by hard-nippled virgin priestesses under the watchful eyes of missionaries and well-armed eunuchs, it is processed by being steeped for an entire lunar cycle in extracts of coconut milk and pig's blood, before being rolled into small cigarettes and smoked by American politicians and newscasters.


I apologize for not having a storyword yesterday -- Blogger was not functioning properly during my window of opportunity. Sigh.

Good news is, you'll get two today!



In the dank and noisome laboratories of darkest France, evil culinary geniuses are even now using obscure techniques of genetic manipulation to develop a new superfood -- "flivver." An obscene miscegenation of liver and fruit flies, it will be created by the latest mass production techniques and available in any color as long as it's black. Flivver will soon ford the Atlantic, where it will be found in every pot while voters play with chickens in every garage.

("Flivver" courtesy of AnnaH)

  I've been nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette, and for the John W. Campbell, Jr. Award for Best New Writer!
Award info | Me

Read the Hugo-nominated story for free at

Q: What is this?
A: A fiction experiment. Every day, people email me words. At some random point in the day, I pick a word, write a quick story about it on the spot, and post it unedited (except for a quick typo patrol).

Q: What did that word mean?
A: Look it up:

Q: Can I send you a word?
A: You bet. Include a definition if the word is deeply obscure -- or not, if you prefer. Send it to

Q: I've got something to say about this.
A: Click over to the Story Words discussion topic.

Q: Who else is silly enough to do this? I think it's kind of neat.
A: David Jones, for one. Surf over there and check him out. Drop him an encouraging word, too. He's a brave man.
A: Jeremy Tolbert, for another, with his Microscopica project. Likewise show him some love.
A: Jason Erik Lundberg with his Mythologism blog.

Q: You're even cooler than KITT the Knight Rider car. Do you have a mailing list to announce your latest hijinks?
A: Of course I do. What kind of self-promoting, narcissistic writer would I be otherwise? Email me. Occasional mailings regarding stories appearing in print and online, weird stuff in general, and appearances of the Greek Chorus.