Sunday, 13 March 2011


The time has come for this week's EXPANDERS!

What's going on?

Every week, at around 15:00 GMT on a Sunday, I'll post a single word of inspiration. The challenge?

Expand that word into a 15-word story.

One word for every character in 'Porky's Expanse!' Your story can be on any subject and in any genre or style you like, dead funny or deadly serious.

There are two simple levels to the challenge, and these are explained below.
I'll pick the word based on a big event of the week in this part of the blogosphere.

An example with last week's word, which was stuff. It's another one of my rather complicated attempts, riffing off the one from the previous week, which used fort:

"Fort?" he demanded. 
"Care to expand on that?"  
"Too late. Now -"  
"Stuff and nonsense!"

You can surely do better than that. This week's word is elf, for those hot elf chicks.

Have a go in the comments here or post the story at your blog and leave a link. I encourage everyone to follow the links and give feedback to these creative people.

Here's the lowdown on those levels.

1  The first level is the epyllion, or 'little epic'. This is the basic challenge, as above. An independent story with 15 words, one of them the word elf. You're ready to start it now.

2  The second level is the epos, or 'epic'. Instead of an independent 15-word story, you can choose to develop someone else's story, from a previous week. Just write the next instalment. If it has 15 words, uses elf and continues the story, you've done it.

There are two important things to think about if you choose epos. First, you should have the permission of the person who wrote the story you will develop. If anyone writes a 15-word epyllion or adds to an epos and is happy for others to develop it later, please say so, with something like 'for use in an epos'. Second, by using specific elements of someone else's story, we technically create a derivative work, so it's best to avoid this.

We would have plenty of options available for the epos this week, but something terrible has happened. I've managed to delete the whole of last week's post, comments and all. I don't even understand how. As far as I can tell, it was a Blogger glitch, though human error is clearly always a possibility. I carefully scheduled this week's for 15:00 GMT, but when it was posted immediately I made a back-up of this week's post and deleted the original. Then I discovered both this week's and last week's had gone.

I'm very sad, and I apologise for the loss of everyone's stories and links from public view. If your story was written directly into a comment and you would like to have it, I can forward it to you now by email because Blogger does send through an update with each comment made. I recommend making copies of your stories if you would like to keep them for the future, and not trusting either me or the software to keep them safe.

At any rate, I'm giving permission to use my three stories - with food, fort and stuff.

Chosen your level? Then we're ready to go. Time to write, link, copy and comment!


Paul´s Bods said...

"Elf IS the german word for eleven, I´ll stake my life on it", said Jean.

Porky said...

I'm very impressed! And pleased to see a surprise take so early. Jean's right, and makes it through.

GDMNW said...

"To good elf!"
Rod grinned while the acquiescent murmurs failed to mask his speech pathologist's screams.

GDMNW said...

The united nations can't help us, she cried bitterly, human rights don't help an elf!

I suppose these are both epyllion efforts. People are of course welcome to adapt, destroy or continue them as they wish.

GDMNW said...

Another open source epyllion.

What has Finnland to do with it? I said he was Elfin not El Fin!

Or the more subtle, more directed but more easily misunderstood.

The inspector scowled.
"What has Finnland to do with it? I said he was Elfin!"

I meant to ask if this sort of thing was appropriate. Elf appears twice in the first version but not as a word, only as a sequence of letters. Does that count?

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

Mine is up here:

Anonymous said...

I'll take the epos please... so tag this on to last week's effort; (Simply saying "y'know stuff" seemed somehow inadequate to describe a day spent gunning down ex-people).

Experience as a 'Level 10 Elf' appeared to have some real world applications after all.

Anonymous said...

change that to...

Experience as a 'Level 10 Elf' apparently had some real world applications after all though.

Porky said...

@ GDMNW - Epyllion is fine when they come in at the standard these are, and no one's arguing if you're making them available for epos next time.

The first was crying out to be used, but at least you've done it with aplomb. One too many words only, but you could drop the "while" and make "Rod grinned" a sentence itself.

The second makes a good point, and of course the story could just be getting going.

Good question re the two thirds. I'd have to say no formally, because then we'd be hiding the key word everywhere, especially if it's short. But informally, why not? It makes a great side game. You're top of the leaderboard at that game so far. When you play, you really pull out all the stops!

Here's a quick link to C'nor's. I've replied there. It's an epos, building on the fantastical story from the first week. Go have a read if you haven't yet. Check out some other posts too - there are some good ideas yet. He has some scenes from the online adventure too. If you haven't tried that yet, start here

@ Jim Hale - More wordcount fun this week with "10"..! I'd also count it, so 15 words each as far as I'm concerned.

This is clever, as blunt as the first in its own way, by going straight to a primary association of 'elf' for most us.

I like the change between first and second, for bringing in a recognition the achievement might not be much, even a trace of regret in the narrator, extra drama and depth.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

What about synonyms, such as "Elven"?

Porky said...

Again, informally, why not? It would be good to see what can be done with the freedom. I can imagine you'll impress with it.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

And the epos of "stuff" is up.

Also, I've made a post on scaling magic. I figured you should know, since you'd expressed interest.

The Angry Lurker said...

Will Ferell in the movie Elf, a guy in a green suit with pointy shoes.

Andy said...

My epos has grown!

That actually sounds very strange when read out loud ... lol!

Porky said...

C'nor's second epos is here, and my comment too. The big picture is emerging slowly.

The rules for scaling magic in his latest post are also something I think deserves more eyes.

Here's a quick link to Andy's, with my comment of course. Here too more is becoming clear, and the potential comedy is there. Don't forget Andy has the logo design competition running, and anyone can enter.

@ The Angry Lurker - Smart path to take, and you've got the timing, that's for sure. There's comedy value in all of this, knowing what the word has to be and playing to it, and for me you do this very well.

That's a small collection of reviews already, another good side game. I've not seen the movie so for all I know this could be a very insightful reduction to its essence.

There's an interesting idea in general - to review everything we read, see and play, but using a handful of words to save time, and force us to find the core of what it is.

GDMNW said...

Angry Lurker, putting me to shame since 1989!

Should I be ashamed to admit that I loved 'Elf'. Great movie when you're in nine year old mode.

Dave G _ Nplusplus said...

White sun in my eyes, her silhouette warming;
Soft features, blowing hair, elfen beauty.

Dave G _ Nplusplus said...

Also, I think in the interest of creativity, an epyllion is trickier as you need to tell an entire story in 15 words, rather than writing fragments of a larger story.

Woops, these are 15 word stories, not 14...

"White sun blinding my eyes, her silhouette warming;
Delicate features, soft blowing hair, elfen beauty"

Anonymous said...

I'd have to disagree a bit there Dave. Yes telling a story in 15 words is tricky certainly, but then again so is compiling a thought based on a word chosen by someone else and then connecting it with another similar thought is not that easy either.

Both options have their challenges, but also their get-outs too. I wouldn't say that either is easier than the other.

Jennie said...

Here's my contribution for this week.

Porky said...

@ GDMNW - I don't think so. I mean, not necessarily more than for imagining battles between little spacemen..!

@ Dave G _ Nplusplus - This to me almost suggests a John Blanche piece. The essential word for me here is "warming". If we fix the meaning of this down in the context, we understand much more of the situation and relationship. Other words, like "white" and "blowing" give especially large amounts of setting, and even narrative.

@ Dave G _ Nplusplus & Jim Hale - Fair points both. If we think in terms of a whole story with those 15, and that's the point of course, it seems to me naturally more difficult to get a story of any given content into the 15 than 30, 45, 60 etc. Then again, the challenge of having to do it can mean we actually do. We probably all often achieve things that might seem out of reach, if only we are pushed by the circumstances.

Having said that, the later instalments of 15 can still be thought of as individual stories of the same given content, sequels being part of a larger series, and are not necessarily less full of narrative. As with the options discussed earlier with hiding the key word and using variations, this comes down to how each person wants to play. It could be argued quite easily I think that some of the stories have more story than others, but that doesn't mean they have no story at all, and while the temptation with an epos might be to tell chapters rather than a whole novel, this is hard to measure.

At the moment of course we have the ability to judge objectively only on wordcount and key word use, but it would be very interesting to explore whether there's an objective and reasonable measure of a narrative that could be applied here too.

Jennie has some fantasy humour, and as ever my comment is there. If you like this attempt at a story in 15 words, have a look round the rest of her blog for more of the same over longer posts.

Dave G _ Nplusplus said...

I guess it depends on how well things are encapsulated in those 15 words.

Technically, a novel could be written with 15 word sentences or paragraphs. That's what I mean that there's less challenge - you don't need to fill every 15 words with a lot of content because there will be 15 more that follow.

Perhaps it would be more challenging if you looked at every 15 words having to be their own chapter or novel.

Perhaps we're all missing the objective.. we're creating conversations, descriptions, etc.. all very well, but these are fragments. Is that the aim, or do we need to cover a larger story in just 15 words?

Porky said...

Sorry, I forgot to get back on this. A larger story is the ideal, but being as that's tricky to measure, the fragment approach is fine by me, though the more going on in the fragment, the better. I've been using the term 'narrative', and I feel that development of some kind is a key criterion.

Jennie said...

Re-linking the reddit thread that got lost when "stuff" disappeared, as people are still commenting there.