As part of my reintroduction to writing this year, I began participating in a monthly drabble challenge. Drabbles are defined in this case as 100 word stories (or 200 for double drabbles and 300 for triple drabbles). Drabbles are challenging, but I really enjoy them.
I was involved in some discussion this week around word count, though, and ran into someone who claimed they could not drabble. They said it simply wasn’t posssible for them to write using so few words.
Now, this group of folks in chat are people who regularly write 20,000 to 30,000 words or more a month, and the longest story I’ve written recently is less than 5,000 words. Still, it surprised me to find that narrowing the focus down to a drabble-length story would be considered more difficult than writing tens of thousands of words.
So why drabble?
One of the first things I noticed about drabbling was the way it forced me to choose words carefully. When you only have 100 words, every single one of them matters. I’m more likely to break out the thesaurus to find the perfect, descriptive word on a drabble than a full length story.
Another thing I like about drabbles is that they can be relatively quick. If I’m blocked or frustrated, a drabble can shake me out of it. I can usually start and finish them in an evening, and completing something always makes me feel good. It also keeps the juices flowing when I’ve been stymied on my other works in progress.
Finally, drabbling helps with plotting, too. Distilling a scene down to its primary elements, making sure you convey enough detail to fully tell the story but avoid going over the wordcount is great practice for longer stories.
I realize that dabbling is not going to be for everyone. Still, everyone can do it with practice, and I think most people really will get something out of it.