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

Saturday, January 04, 2003

An outbreak of sightings of the great god Pan, especially in connection with widespread chaos, rioting and looting. Examples include a major college football victory, or a presidential nominating convention.

("Pandemic" courtesy of JedH)

Friday, January 03, 2003

What's left over after transsubstantiation has been finished. Also, what's left in your stomach after taking Communion or drinking quite a bit of Jaegermeister, which is, after all, another way of seeing God.

("Instantiation" courtesy of JedH)

Thursday, January 02, 2003

The technical term for things which are scary only at Halloween to small children. Such as algebra. Need I say more? Yes or no, please.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

A class of folk medicine, analogous to an emetic, except that everything comes out of everywhere at once. Typically used in bad cases of food poisoning, panegyrics also substituted in trials-by-combat under Medieval English and Scottish law. The last known use of a panegyric was to settle a contested parliamentary by-election in 1911, to no one's lasting credit.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Half of a winkle, a unit of measurement common in the Holy Roman Empire and still found in certain small German and Danish towns. Winkles are most often used in the sale of alcoholic beverages and children's shoes, so a periwinkle can also refer to one shoe.

  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.