Dictionary Stories: A Challenge

Dictionaries aren’t usually meant for light reading. We’re here to change that: July’s challenge is to write dictionary stories.

Often, a dictionary definition is paired with a sentence for context. For instance, Merriam-Webster’s word of the day is crackerjack. Its context sentence is:

She is a crackerjack athlete who excels in soccer and softball.

The goal is to string these context sentences together to tell a story. They are often hilarious and surprisingly poignant. One of my favorites is from a site called Dictionary Stories (check them out for ideas):


Back in October, I tried my hand at it. It felt like Mad Libs:

The children in their Halloween costumes heard a terrifying noise coming from the next room. The noise spooked the cat. (The children were pretending to be animals.) The stuntman, a sorcerer who used his power for evil ends, crashed through the window on a motorcycle. “What do you want?” he growled. The street was covered with broken glass.

There was an awkward pause in the conversation. He looked back the way he had come—the officers police the streets for reckless drivers.

Cheese it, the cops!”

The moment has arrived. The actor was nervous about his big scene. For his last trick, the magician made a rabbit disappear: the child of the wealthy industrialist was kidnapped and held for ransom.

Now it’s your turn! It can be short and sweet or long and suspenseful. It can be whatever you want.

So, here’s the deal:

  • Send in your dictionary story to rachel@inkblotediting.com. Italicize or underline the key word in each sentence or clause (if you’re looking for good sample sentences, use Merriam-Webster). Feel free to change punctuation to combine sentences, but don’t add any new text if you can help it. Also let us know if your piece has a title.
  • We’ll post it on the site!
  • Feel free to send as many as you like.

After all, the best way to learn is by experience. I can’t remember when I’ve had so much fun!