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

Saturday, December 28, 2002

One who is in favor of crastination, which is the process of encasing an object in cream cheese or butter, freezing it, then preserving it until the casing melts. Controversial among certain sects of Mennonites, and prohibited by law in Quebec, Puerto Rico and Indiana.

Thursday, December 26, 2002
Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a national holiday in China, commemorating both the Boxer Rebellion and the Taiping Rebellion. Traditionally, foreigners were gift-wrapped and presented to the servants, but since the Cultural Revolution small lollies with the image of Queen Victoria on one side and Sun Yat Sen on the other have been the ordinary gift.


The act of being embedded in meat, a rite practiced by the anti-Jains of India, and echoed in certain esoteric sects of the Southern Baptist Convention around the barbecue pit. The practitioner is supposedly put in contact with the bloody heart of the world, or the in the case of Baptists, several pounds of really rocking brisket. Intended to open a path to spiritual enlightenment, incarnation often merely causes indigestion.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Victor Frankenstein's cousin, Beauregard Frankincense, was a New Orleans parfumier in the mid-nineteenth century who developed the classic scent known as "Shelley." Frankincense went on to found the cult of the two spices, which curiously venerated gold as the "king of substances." Frankincense and his two archbishops were known as "the Three Wise Guys," and their krewe, Eastern Star, is still active in Mardi Gras celebrations today.

Monday, December 23, 2002

"Verve" is a part of speech in Middle English lost around Shakespeare's time. Originally borrowed from Old French, the concept was of a word which served both to indicated action (a verb) and to indicate tone or mood, especially flair of a certain sort (nerve). Entirely replaced today by gall, chutzpah and the Congressional Record.

"Verve" courtesy of KenB

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Chatoyant, having the qualities of light and sparking conversation, often associated with catty behavior and glowing reviews delivered in an insincere fashion. Also associated with French foreign policy.


A procrastinate is a crastinate that has lost its amateur status. Amateur crastinates are often found in states with square borders, lurking along their suspiciously even edges to victimize tourists. Pros go on the international tour, when they can find the time.

  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.