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

Thursday, April 17, 2003
Economic Slump

The position one assumes when one is laid off.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

In the algae-tinted waters surrounding the coral reefs of Micronesia, there are numerous distinctive and unique specimens of marine life. The warm Pacific currents and the rich ecology of the area have provided for the lesser common flatfish, the sideways snapper, the diagonal puppyfish and many others. But the favorite of both the local pearl divers and visiting tourists is the blowfish. The unique marine organism is actually quite friendly and approachable, normally feeding on sea cucumbers and the like. It gets its name because it, people happy.

Never mind.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

To tipple is to drink. To tupple is to store food inside of plastic containers. To tapple is to very lightly hammer a nail, usually a small finishing nail. To tepple is to read Sheri Tepper's fiction. So why do we need the word topple? To keep the vowel "o" happy.

Monday, April 14, 2003
Extension to File

You've heard of hair extensions, right? Those colorful, artificial things bound to the draggled split ends. Extension to file is roughly the same thing, a colorful, artifical lie bound to the draggled split end of a year of creative finance. Love it and live it, baby.

Sunday, April 13, 2003
Pineal Gland

Inside of every pine cone, there are tiny seeds. Inside of every seed, there is a whole array of cellular machinery with a fully encoded pine tree. Inside of every human brain there is a pineal gland.

You thought I was going to make a stupid pun, didn't you? In fact, you were pining for it.

  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.