Advice for Writing the Dreaded Drabble

Follow these steps and you'll be writing Drabbles in no time

Advice for Writing the Dreaded Drabble

Okay, so if you’re not familiar with the ‘Drabble’, then I envy you. I had to produce one for university.

Write a story in just 100 words. Sounds easy, yeah? It’s not! I struggled more with this, than I did writing a complete script for a play.

There are no rules for a Drabble, apart from it can only be 100 words. Not under, or over. Exactly 100 words. It’s a good writing exercise, mainly because it teaches you how to remove unnecessary words from your writing. But damn… I hated it.

This is the best Drabble I could produce:

Sally didn’t mean to press fire. But Bert was coming quick and fast; there was no time to escape.

There was a bounty on her life. £50,000. Bert had already snatched her daughter two days before. He knew Sally would come.

The car chase was sure to land her with a fine and three penalty points. But that was no reason to die. She didn’t want to die. It was too expensive anyway.

As Bert lay bleeding in the street, the sirens caught up with her…

“Sally! Dinner time. Put the game away, darling.”

“Ugh, fine. Police caught me anyway.”

I’m not proud of this in any way, but it’s the best I could come up with. The grade wasn’t too bad for it actually. I got a 2:1 – which is one of my worst marks, but still a good mark nonetheless.

So what’s the best advice I can give? Apart from not writing one? (I joke, of course).

Tip #1 - Start Simple!

I am a Gothic writer at heart, so complicated emotions and stories ooze from me, but I found that a simple story works best for Drabbles.

Because of the lack of words available to you, start with a simple plot. So, mine, was a young girl plays a video game and gets interrupted by her mum. That’s it. Pretty boring on the surface, but that’s where tip number 2 comes in…

Tip #2 - Include A Twist!

Twists are great in any story, so why should a Drabble be any different? In fact, twists in Drabbles and other short pieces is a great way to make it interesting. Without a twist, it could be a pretty boring 100 words.

Again, keep the twist simple. You don’t want a twist that has a twist, within a twist. You don’t want a Jeremy Kyle moment! So my twist, was that Sally wasn’t actually being chased by literal Police, just ones in a video game.

Tip #3 - Delete Needless Words!

Drabbles make sure we don’t have useless words. If you’ve got 112 words, you don’t have a Drabble! So you’ve got to do some deleting. A cheat way around this is combing words to make contractions. For example, instead of  ‘he had gone out…’ change it to ‘he’d gone out…’

But if cheating with contractions still has you desperately needing to delete words, scan through what you’ve written and see what is needless. An example of this, could be:

“Palpitations took over. Boom boom, She could hear her heart thumping in her ears.”

This could be edited down to this:

Palpitations took over. Boom. She could hear her heart thumping.”

This simple edit removed four words. Sure, if you’re writing a novel, the first sentence sounds much better, but a Drabble is fast paced.

Tip #4 - Don't Force It!

The worst part for me writing my first Drabble, was trying to force a complete story out. I was trying so hard and getting so angry with it. No one told me it was okay if your first million Drabbles are rubbish, just keep trying. Okay, so it wasn’t quite that bad, but it wasn’t pretty. I seemed to think that if my Drabble wasn’t amazing, I’d fail my entire year.

So, just relax! Use a Drabble to develop a character you have in another piece you’re writing. Use it to bulk out a setting. They’re actually very useful for almost everything, apart from story telling. But that’s okay. You’ll finally manage to bash one out and you’ll be ever so slightly smug that you have mastered the Drabble.

That’s right, writing one successful Drabble does make you a Drabble King/Queen. At least... that’s what I tell myself.

So, there you have it, my tips for writing the dreaded Drabble. Hopefully you found it useful. Give it a try and leave yours in the comments; I’d love to read them!

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Catherine Abbington
Catherine Abbington
Read next: The Unconventional College Life
Catherine Abbington

Writer by trade and by passion

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