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Writing Tip 1: To Drabble or Not To Drabble, That Is The Question.

Scarly July 2, 2012 User blog:Scarly
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Among fanfiction, most people don't know what a drabble is, or shy away from them, because of the challenge to meet the word count requirements for them. But, they are very easy to write, and can really help develop into proper stories.

Here, in this blog, I will show you how to use them to help with writing full fledged stories, and also how to write one as a stand alone drabble.

Drabbles come in two kinds; one that is exactly 100 words, no more, no less. Now, the other kind of drabble is more than 200 words, upto 1000 words, though they are commonly written to be 900 to 1000 words. These kinds are most often confused with one-shots. For this tip, I will only talk about 100 word drabbles, because they tend to be avoided, because hardly anyone knows what to do with them.

100 Word Drabbles

Now, this can be very challenging, if you don't know what you're doing.

Preparing Tools

Most people think, because there is so small space to move around in, that there should be no dialogue at all. This is not the case! You can write a drabble, and still have dialogue in it. It is about the word count, not what is in it.

I do get asked, "How do you know how many words there are?" well, there are two ways;

  1. Count the words yourself. - this can be a very unreliable way to do this.
  2. Use a word count tool. This one is the best one I've found, it counts the words as you type .

Now, characters. When writing a drabble, never use more than two characters - some time three if the third person is merely mentioned. Having too many characters can make the drabble too complicated, and could eat up more words than intended - you only have 100 to work with.

Writing Your Drabble

So, you have your plot idea, you have the characters you want to use. Now what?

  1. Think about your plot. Is it a small moment? Will a lot happen? If it is yes to the second one, then I suggest either a 1000 word drabble, a one-shot or a multi chapter story.
  2. Think about what the characters have to say or do.
  3. Avoid heavy prose. That means detail like "His raven black hair glistened in the silvery moon light." That will eat up a lot of the words, and will mean a lot of editing when you're done.

A Sample Drabble

This is a drabble that I wrote earlier, to show you how a drabble could be. Using the lovely and epic Jalice.

Sat alone, or so he believed, surrounded by books, Jasper thought of Alice. The love of his immortal life. "How much time had I wasted, before I found her?" Jasper asked himself.

Alice, sat cross legged on the mahogany desk that belonged to Carlisle, smiled. "You waited as long as you needed to," Alice told Jasper, with a smile on her pixie like face. "Though, I waited longer than you."

"True. Why did you wait?" Jasper asked. It was the one question he always wanted to know.

"Because, Jasper, I love you," Alice replied.

You can use some description and dialogue, but keep it simple. Here is one, that I wrote a few months ago, about my favourite pairing in Ouran High School Host Club. I have a whole collection of them, on my Fanfiction.Net profile, here.

In the garden, showered by the petals of the cherry blossoms, as the golden haired host king, and natural host girl. The two were hardly ever alone, there was always someone around. Today was different, they were completely alone. Each one would steal a glance from the other, neither one wanting to change what they had.

"Senpai?" Haruhi asked, cutting their silence like a knife through butter.

"Haruhi?" Tamaki replied, a hopeful look in his lavender eyes.

Instead of speaking, Haruhi brushed the petals out of his golden hair with her fingers, and found her hand enveloped by his hands.

And, taadaa!

After you have word count tooled it, spell checked it, and proof read it, you have written your own drabble!

If anyone has written one, because of this little guide, I'd love to see them. :D

Using Drabbles to Inspire Stories

Now that you have covered the basics of writing drabbles, now you can use them to help you test out ideas or even to develop into a story.

Testing Characters

So, you want to write about a specific pairing, or want to make two characters friends, but not sure how to do it? That is simple, write a drabble about each character. This can be difficult sometimes, to flesh out a character in your mind, but it can be done.

Don't worry about readability, this drabble will only be for you to see, so write it exactly how you want, as long as it's 100 words long of course.

I do this all the time. What I do is, I imagine the character in a room, and on the coffee table, is an item. Say, for this example, a coffee mug. How would that person react to that mug? Would they pick it up? Would they look more at the coffee table? Would they avoid it completely, and go to some other object in the room? Next, do the same with the other character.

Now you have two drabbles of your characters. Imagine them both in that room, would they do the same thing they did in their drabbles if another person was there. Would they do something else? Would they hug each other? Or would they perhaps talk to one another?

There you have it, you have tested your pairing.

Starting Points

When you're not sure how to begin a story, start with a drabble. For example, say I wanted Bella to walk down a river bank, muttering to herself about something that would have happened. I would write a drabble about it.

Then perhaps, I imagine what Bella could come across someone or something after her mutterings, and write a second drabble to say what happened. Or, could something have caused Bella to walk down the river bank? So, I would write a drabble to go before her muttering to herself.

Then, add the three together, and continue on from my third drabble. Then, there you have it, the beginning of a story.

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