Normally I don’t respond to my own writing prompts, but as I was awake at 3AM mulling this one over, I thought I’d jot down my thoughts.

Invent a definition for the word “flangiprop,” then use the word in a post. 

I think “flangiprop” means one of two things. I haven’t yet settled on my final choice:

1. A literary device wherein a new character is introduced into a story, only to be killed in an incredibly gruesome way so that the protagonist can have a searing breakthrough. The character is then forgotten entirely. Kind of like a deus ex machina meets Saw IV.

2. A failed 19th century invention; the flangiprop was a small, wind-up device that looked a bit like a bird. It was meant to be inserted into one’s featherbed prior to bedtime, where it would chitter around and fluff the feathers. Unfortunately, after the third usage, it would usually destroy the featherbed completely, and several small children were severely injured when their parents inadvertently left active flangiprops in their mattresses overnight.

I’m leaning toward #2. I like to think it would have been marketed as “Professor Flangiprop’s Perpetual Feather Fluffer and Marital Aid,” and the advertisement would have touted all kinds of health benefits resulting from slumber on an adequately fluffed mattress, like proper uterine alignment or increased spinal vitality.

And you?


  1. I like number 2, but I kind of love that Victorian mindset that dicates there must be an item for every conceivable function. I especially like to learn about all the different kinds of forks they used: fish forks, pickle forks, meat forks, cheese forks, and on and on.


  2. #2. Replacing the bed fork which was the prior tool used for this function, but had no working parts. It was the quest for automation that doomed the bed fork and then the flangiprop, the take away being that not all tools need moving parts – preventing the invention of the scroppy – a screwdriver that mixed itself. Wait…what was the question?


  3. Wow. All I can say is “wow” to both those definitions. As someone who has read his share of 1800s newspapers and seen some pretty terrible movies, both are perfectly plausible.


  4. Tough choice! Both options are appealing. It would be good to have a name to reference for the characters in option 1 and there is something about “Professor Flangiprop’s Perpetual Feather Fluffer and Marital Aid” that makes option 2 equally appealing. In the end, I think I’ll have to cast my vote for #1. Much as Anthony stated, those characters desreve some sort of formal clasificaiton and recogntion beyond simply calling them a plot device or tool.


  5. I go with #2, too. It brings to mind a play set in the late 19th Century by Sarah Ruhl called “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)”. Now I wish it had been about your definition of Flangiprops.


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