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hasaidreamer in auld_lang_snape

What is a Drabble?

What makes a drabble, a drabble?

Is it merely the length? I’ve seen anything from mctabby’s recent 25-word challenge to about 500 words called a drabble. So is that all that defines it? Or is there something more that makes a drabble, among all fanfiction styles, unique?

Does a drabble have to tell a complete story?

Does a ficlet that leaves out so much that it doesn’t make sense or it leaves you yearning for it to be expanded into a longer story “count” as a drabble?

The best drabbles, of course, are those that tell volumes more than words can say, by what they imply – by the subtle implications of what we see – and what we don’t see. A drabble is like a peek into the story through a window the size of a slit in a piece of paper. If the window is in the right place, at the right time, the ficlet will succeed. If not…

Finally: Is there a skill to writing drabbles that is different from writing other fiction or fanfic? What is the most important feature of a drabble that you are going to enjoy?

All thoughts or answers are welcome!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Link: here

A Drabble is an extremely short work of fiction with exactly one hundred words, although the term is often misused to indicate a short story of less than 1000 words. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.

In drabble contests participants are given a theme and a certain amount of time to write a drabble. Drabble contests and drabbles in general are popular in science fiction fandoms and in fan fiction. The concept is said to have originated in UK Science Fiction fandom in the 1980s, the 100-word format was established by the Birmingham University SF Society.

The language greatly affects the ease of writing a drabble. For example, the Finnish two-word sentence "Heittäytyisinköhän seikkailuun?" would translate into English as "What if I should throw myself into an adventure?", a sentence of nine words. This density of meaning makes Finnish a much easier language in which to write a drabble than English. Even easier languages would be those that exhibit extreme polysynthesis, such as Cherokee, where an entire English sentence can often be expressed in a single word.

The word drabble comes from the 1971 Monty Python's Big Red Book. It was a word game where the first participant to write a novel wins. In order to make the game possible in the real world, the science fiction fandom agreed that 100 words will suffice.

Drabble is also sometimes used colloquially to refer to any short piece of literature, usually fan fiction, where brevity is the outstanding feature. Some stories, called "drabbles" by their authors or readers, total as many as 1,000 words in length. However, such a story might more accurately be termed "flashfic", "shortfic," or "ficlet."


Somehow I agree with the Pythons. A drabble should - at its best - be a 100 word novel.

To me, a drabble is exacly 100 words. No more, no less. It is the purpose of the excercise; to be aware of the words, to cut out anything unnecessary and still keep the literary qualities abundantly clear. As soon as the limit is widened, the awareness of the words disappears. To me, a drabble's foremost quality should be that it tells a complete story, or describes a complete picture.

Writing a short ficlet and label it a drabble does not make it a drabble, just a short ficlet with a wrong name on it.

It is not easy to write a good drabble, and I think it is a pity when authors seem to think that any 87-1012 words can do it and just deliver something that looks like random sentences taken out of a fic.

The perfect drabble - to me - has 100 words sharp, tells a wrapped up story or scene, even a feeling can do. It keeps its literary qualities; good language, preferably bordering on poetry or at least showing a language awareness that sets it apart from a 100 word line in a fic.

Just like Japan has its Haikus, the Icelandics have Kenninge, drabbles, to me, follow strict rules to act like the fantastic writing-improvement tool they can be if treated well. :0)

Gods, I'm anal snarky... ;0)
I agree with you; I wish we could all use the same words to mean the same things :). "Drabble" is fine for a very specific form - that 100 word, complete story. I've never really understood the "4x100" some people do, because isn't it just a 400-word story? I don't know. I usually don't write things so short!

I think that it depends...

I did a couple of Stages of Love - 5 x 100(loosely interpreted) to describe stages in a relationship. It worked well, and a lot of people doing the challenge actually fulfilled the classic drabble criterias, so that each drabble stood alone and still worked a part of a whole.

Just as a novel can cover anything from a day, like Joyce's 'Ulysses' to thousand years like Rutherford's 'Sarum', a drabble, to me, doesn't have to cover a person's whole life. But it still has to have the same wrapped up feeling as a novel.

But it would be nice if we all had the same expression for the same thing. I think that 'ficlet' is very nice and covering for anything that is short and not a classic drabble.