Monday, July 25, 2011

Expansion Joints Challenge, part 21: "Opening"

First, let me apologize for the delay in getting this up. I humbly beg your forgiveness, and will endeavor not to let it happen again.

When this exercise was hosted over at Porky's Expanse!, he always chose the word for the Expanders! challenge based on some relevant happening or theme. This week has been intense and emotional. The brutal and senseless attacks in Norway and the death of Amy Winehouse both provided occasion to reflect on questions of the value and meaning of life and death and of the role of large-scale and small-scale media in driving behavior both at the societal level and on the personal one. The brinkmanship playing out in the US Government continued this week, and appears to be creating conditions that will allow for the passage of a debt limit package that will almost certainly prove to be a Faustian bargain that would never have been approved under other circumstances. On happier notes, the marvelous illustrations for a friend's third book (which will no doubt appear here when it is finally released) were featured in a fairly large art exhibition that started Sunday, and the production of Much Ado About Nothing that my son is performing in (and that I have been lassoed into assistant stage-managing for) began its run. The thing that links them all together is the concept of opening, and that is the word of the week.

If you aren't familiar with the Expansion Joints project, it all began over at Porky's Expanse!.

The rules are just as they are described over at Porky's: as much narrative as you can cram into fifteen words, one of which must be the word of the week.

This can take the form of

1. An epyllion,or litle epic, a stand-alone fifteen-word narrative, or

2. An epos, or 'epic'. Instead of an independent 15-word story, you can choose to develop someone else's story from a previous week, or extend your own story from week to week. Just write the next installment. If it has 15 words, uses the word of the week, 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.

There are a number of generous contributors who have given express permission to use some of their writing as the basis for epos:

Porky, the founder of the project, offers up all of his contributions.

GDMNW has opened up the three stories here.

Dave G_Nplusplus makes any of his Expanders! stories available for use in an epos.

Arlequin has an epos running on his Expanders! page, and he has graciously extended permission to play with any or all of the contributions there.

Andy, over at The Creepy Corridor, has also made his epos posts available for expansion.

And, as always, feel free to use any of the stories on this blog that are tagged as "Expansion Joints" in an epos.

Words that have previously made an appearance in an Expanders!/Expansion Joints include: food, fort, stuff, elf, rogue, pass, fool, hammer, note, temper, table, twisted, missing, sacrifice, spirit, rush, tie, line, free, break, and cut, in case you are of an historical bent, or wish to write a complete set.

When you've finished writing your entry for this week, either post your 15-word story directly in the comments here, or leave a link in the comments to the blog page where we can find it.


  1. Opening his cigarettes and calmly extracting one, he lit it and drew heavily on it.

    Don't worry about delays Jennie, we're in different time zones anyway, so Sunday isn't always Sunday to some of us ;)

    We could do with some more Myth-Marked Merchandising though, if you have the time? :)

  2. Delays are fine by me too - I'm slow anyway. And I second the call for more Myth-Marked now I've caught up.

    Mine's here. I was thinking participle too, but went with the noun in the end.

  3. Opening the proverbial 'Pandora's Box' is nothing like peeking inside Kellen's corner now is it?

  4. Wouldn't say Kellen's corner is hopeless, although you tempt me, with an opening like that. ;)