In these days of Google and other search engines, looking up the meaning of a term in the Dictionary may seem like an outdated way of doing things. But it was in this unlikely scenario that designer and illustrator Jez Burrows discovered the inspiration for his latest project.
While scanning the definition for the word ‘study’, Burrows came across this beautifully written sentence: “He perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery.”
He described the moment as ‘striking’:”The language of dictionary definitions is all very plain and functional, so seeing this incredibly heavy and evocative sentence in amongst it all really struck me and seemed like the beginning of a short story.”
This was how The Dictionary Stories was created, a project that compiles example sentences from the dictionary to form short but stunning stories, such as this one titled Noir.
“Almost every word you’ll find in the dictionary is accompanied by an example sentence,” says Burrows. “These sentences — either written or sourced by fearless lexicographers — are intended to demonstrate the most probable usage of a word, in order to help you use it correctly. All the stories collected here are written entirely using example sentences from the New Oxford American Dictionary, with nothing added except some punctuation to piece them together.”
This one is called Confessional.
Burrows claims his process is mostly random: “Usually I’ll just come across one specific sentence (or a group of sentences) that will suggest a story or a concept and I’ll go from there.
“I sometimes have vague plans for stories … but so far all my favorite stories have come about completely serendipitously.”
Who knew such a simple idea could create such amazing results?
Take a look at more of Burrows tantalising tales below.