I recently discovered the Periodic Table of Storytelling, designed by James Harris. Usually the words “periodic” and “table” send me running for the hills—arms flailing, screaming, et. al.—but this is not your everyday periodic table of the elements. It has various ridiculous prompts embedded throughout that can be used to trigger creative thoughts. (Not that I need any more mental brain triggers, but whateve).
I decided to give the periodic-table-as-writing-prompt a try, so I selected a few random “elements” without knowing what they meant. Then I clicked through and discovered this:
So, here goes.
Gus McGillicuddy was a pig of epic proportions. Seven hundred pounds, give or take.
He was a glutton, to be sure, but not just a glutton for food—he also loved money. That’s why he wanted to practice law in the first place, so he could sit on a fat pile of riches. Didn’t matter how vicious the crime or how shady the client, all that mattered was the fat pile. Innocence wasn’t even preferable; it was negligable. So when Hank Farmer stepped into his office one day and said he needed an attorney to represent him, Gus McGillicuddy said yes without hesitation. Hank Farmer had a large bank account to match his large dairy farm, and everyone knew it.
—What have you been accused of? Gus McGillicuddy asked. Every question was designed to sidestep the bigger question of guilt or innocence.
—Stealing hogs, Hank Farmer said.
—Stealing hogs from who?
—I believe you mean ‘from whom.’
—Stealing hogs from whom?
—Doesn’t matter. From anywhere I can get them.
—Why? Last I heard you had a dairy farm and had no use for hogs.
—I don’t keep them on the farm.
—What do you need them for, then?
At this, Hank Farmer pulled a carving knife from his back pocket.