Monday’s Friend: Aheila

Today I welcome Canadian writer Aheila to my blog to explain the concept of “Drabble Days”.

A Mouse to Help my Lion
By Aheila

Last year, I started labelling a day of the week « Drabble Day » on my blog. Since then, every Monday, a few writers challenge themselves to write a story of exactly a hundred words based on a prompt.
Though the very short stories might not be as glamorous as a majestic novel, they can definitely help a novel shine.

Writing Exercise
Drabbles (or shorter works like hint fiction) are priceless because they’re too short to tell a story.
Yep.
They have to show it.
The limited number of words forces us to choose each one carefully, to make sure our sentences are crafted as meaningfully as possible. We can get away with writing a descriptive or a philosophical drabble – telling stuff – but crafting a complete fiction piece (beginning, conflict and climax) requires that we develop our “showing” skills.
Pacing and tension building are of the essence as well and the shortness of the story helps us realize if/when we lack in these areas.

Editing Exercise
While we grow used to the format and better at writing exactly a hundred words without much cutting or adding, the first few drabbles typically need a lot of editing. Some of the participants on my blog had to cut theirs in half.
Drabbles are manageable bites, easy to wrap our head around, so editing is relatively painless. We pinpoint the essential bits more easily and notice the missing information at a glance. Both of these skills soon become reflexes when we fall in “edit mode”.
Reflexes that translate nicely to the editing of a longer manuscript.

Anti-Writer Block
I often say that Drabble Day is my palate cleanser, my vacation from my other stories. It takes an hour out of my writing schedule tops but energizes me for the week.
Why?
Drabbles have two rules: stick to a hundred words and use the prompt. That’s it.
We have room to experiment. Try point of views or tenses we don’t usually use. Dive into a genre we’ve never written. Write a whole story only with dialogs. The list goes on and on.
We’re having fun with it and temporarily letting our current masterpiece rest without sacrificing too much time in our crazy schedule.

Drabbles have been a nice addition to my weekly writing routine for about 40 weeks. On top of everything I’ve mentioned, they are also a great networking opportunity. I want to read more stories from my fellow writers and leave them a comment but I’m always fighting to find the time. Luckily, reading drabbles is easy to wedge into a schedule!

If you want to join the challenge, hone your writing and editing skills, take a break from your current project and interact with a lovely bunch, you’re welcome to join this week’s Drabble Day!

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a game designer by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, undying energy and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”, a belief she embodies daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog.

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4 comments so far

  1. Ryan on

    I agree wholeheartedly with your concept of challenging yourself through hint fiction, drabbles and the like. Painting a picture in the few words alotted by those forms, tests our ability to express ourselves as writers, convey emotion and bring a story and characters to the reader effectively and with originality. Thanks for your encouragement and humor, Aheila. Thanks for the post Sara!

  2. Carolyn Arnold on

    Sounds like a terrific idea Aheila! I’ll have to give it a try someday soon.

  3. dmlbooks on

    As a participant I can attest to the sharpness that writing Drabbles brings to ones stories. Having written 19 of the nanostories I can say that I now look at plotting in a different light.

    It also gets one thinking in different directions. If a story has to be told in just 100 words then it has to be memorable, it has to have a hook. No place here for kitchen sink drama (unless the story is of a fatal encounter with a garbage disposal…).

    Some of my Drabbles have inspired me to think about the story that they tell and write something longer, expanding upon the life of the character or the society that they inhabit.

    In short, Drabble writing is fun, useful exercise, and gets the creative juices flowing.

    I would definitely encourage people to go over to Aheïla’s blog and participate!

  4. Claire Gillian on

    I love drabbles, find them remarkably easy compared to other fiction forms…but that ease is sometimes quite deceptive. Editing at the individual word level vs. sentence, paragraph or scene, really makes you appreciate a quick recall (not necessarily large) vocabulary and even double entendres.

    I like the new pic, Aheila!


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