WRITE A DRABBLE!
Before you embark on a journey to write a drabble, be sure to visit Art of the Drabble. Creating these ever-so-short stories, is more difficult than it may sound. Are you ready for a challenge?
Great! Start by picking a topic or main theme (see more below). Your everyday life is a great place to look. Consider what you hear on the radio or from passersby or in conversations with others. Look around. Do you see something beautiful? Or disturbing? Did you read something in the newspaper that moved you? Anything will do!
Ready to write? Don't overthink it. Just start telling the story in normal everyday language. (Remember: a drabble is a prose story, not a poem; see more about this below.) Keep it close to 100 words but don't worry about word count at first; get the story down. See 4 Elements to a Complete Story below for more details. Pro tip: All of my first drafts are written by hand; it seems that my heart and mind are more in alignment this way, and the message of the story is more easily coaxed into existence.
It is only when I feel complete with the first draft that the story is typed into the computer. This is where the real work begins. Remember: Editing and rewrites make for the best story (see more below). I revisit the story again—word by word—considering the theme, facts (if necessary), language, names, tense, duplications, nuance, word-count, punctuation, and more.
After a number of rewrites, to authenticate the content, I ask myself if the story is ready for scrutiny by the Writer’s Group to which I belong. There, it undergoes further examination, and I always leave with homework!
Completing a story can take several days, or even up to a couple of weeks. I let it have the time that it needs, and you can too. Drabbling is supposed to be fun, so play and enjoy!
What’s in your pen to share? Write on!
Tips for Writing great drabbles...
Tip #1: Choose One Theme
A theme is defined as a central topic, subject, or key message within a narrative. The most common contemporary understanding of a theme is an idea or point that can often be summed in a single word (for example, love, death, or betrayal). Typical examples of themes of this type are conflict between individuals, or between individuals and society; coming of age; and the dangers of unchecked ambition. A theme then is exemplified by the actions, utterances, or thoughts of a character or characters in a story, including drabbles.
When writing a drabble, you want to ask yourself, “What is the main point that I wish to convey to the reader?” Then, write your brief story to that theme FIRST! Don’t worry about word count at this point; just make sure you have a solid theme. Pro Tip: The title of the story will in most cases be directly linked to the theme. Of course, a story can have multiple themes, but because drabble stories are precisely 100 words, it’s best to focus first on only one theme.
Tip #2: 4 Steps for Creating a Complete Story
There are four major components to a great story. The first component is the bones of the story. This is the part to write first. It is the story itself, following the theme, beginning, middle and end. The second step is when you work on descriptions and making sure that you make each word count. The next step is character development, and even though this does not incorporate many words, this is a vital part of the story. Last, but not least, is dialogue. Dialogue is a place where you can really develop characters and add descriptions.
Here is a basic outline to help:
Bones of the story (40-50 words)
Descriptions (15-20 words)
Character development (15-20 words)
Dialogue (15-20 words)
Tip #3: Write Prose not Poetry
Poetry is a form of literature that uses vividly descriptive and often rhythmic or metrical qualities of language to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic meaning. For this reason, a poem may have multiple interpretations.
Prose, on the other hand, is a form of language that has no formal metrical structure. Prose is normal everyday speech and consists of full grammatical sentences and paragraphs. It forgoes aesthetic appeal in favor of clear, straightforward language.
Here is an example of poetry vs. prose using Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” as an example…
Line of poetry verse:
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Sample prose form:
“The woods look lovely against the setting darkness, and as I gaze into the mysterious depths of the forest, I feel like lingering here longer, but I have pending appointments and a lot of distance to cover before I settle in for the night. So off I go.”
The second paragraph is conveying a similar message, but it is conveyed in ordinary language, without a formal metrical structure to bind it.
Tip #4: Feedback and Editing are Critical for Good Writing
Don’t be deterred by your first draft being more than 100 words. Thoughtful, careful rewriting and editing will highlight repetitions or redundancies and show you where you could be sharper in your writing. A great question when writing drabbles in particular is, "Is this necessary?" Include only what is needed for a complete and compelling story, without relying on "filler." The same applies to character development, as noted in Tip #3 above. Select appropriately descriptive words and keep dialogue short and to the point. In a story of only 100 words, you need to make EVERY word count!
Joining a writers club for feedback and constructive critique may be helpful. Presenting feedback criteria, such as What was the theme of this story? What did you think of so-and-so character? What else would you have wanted to know, or hear? But always write in your own words, even if others lack enthusiasm about your work. If you are really serious about great writing, hire an good editor. A good editor will not only help you tell a better story, they will point out the areas of writing and style where you can improve and how to do that.