Drabbles and Dribbles

My guest blogger today is Sheila Deeth, author of Christmas! Genesis to Revelation in 100 Words a Day and Easter! Creation to Salvation in 100 Words a Day. Shiela writes: 

I drabble. Technically, since drabble’s a noun, I should say I write drabbles. They’re defined in Wikipedia as “extremely short” works of fiction “exactly one hundred words in length.” But however short, they’re still stories, with beginning, middle and end; and they might even be fun to read, like haiku supersized. 

Dribbles are drabbles with fifty words. And double-drabbles have two hundred. 

It doesn’t take much to write a drabble; just a paragraph or two. And once I’ve typed my mini-masterpiece I can edit something that needs only moments to read. I learn to check, where’s this going? Has anything changed? Did I repeat myself when I should’ve found a synonym? And what can I delete-adjectives, adverbs? 

I learn to choose between showing and telling with only words for one scene, selecting details to draw in the reader, and exercising the gentle art of leaving some things out. 

With a novel, I’ll want readers to keep turning the pages. With a drabble, I hope to keep their thoughts churning. And maybe some small idea will stick, till one day my book hits the stores and glues itself to their questing hands. 

I drabble, and this article is double-drabble sized. 

The drabble below is one of a series I’m posting on gather.com for Thanksgiving (though it’s probably got more to do with Hanukah). There’s a dribbled version underneath.

How do you rebuild what is broken and dirtied and destroyed? Where do you begin? 

They ripped out the altar and built it new. They set new stones to reform the walls and cleansed the undergrowth that had wrecked the pavement. They brought back the lamp and the incense and table and arranged them in their place. And they prepared the sacrifice. 

But all their labors were in vain; there was scarcely oil even to light the lamp. 

How do you rebuild? You pray to God. Then the teaspoon of oil lasted eight days long and the Temple was restored. 

…and a dribble? 

They ripped out the altar, reset the stones, and cleansed the undergrowth that had wrecked the floor. They relit lamps, burned incense, and prepared the sacrifice. But light faded, the oil was gone, the lantern burning dry. 

They prayed and the oil held out, restored, eight glorious days and nights.

5 Responses to “Drabbles and Dribbles”

  1. Pat Bertram Says:

    Sheila, thank you for guesting my blog today. Good luck with your books! Interesting idea — telling a story in a series of drabbles.

    I tried my hand at one: Death Row

  2. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Thanks Pat. I’m honored.

  3. joylene Says:

    What you do is an art. I’m so envious. Drabbles required a tight concise writing style. You have to grab their attention fast & hang on tight. As a novelist, I get to build towards the climax with 80,000 words or so.

    Thanks, Sheila.

  4. jalex Says:

    Good article, Sheila. As Joylene said, drabbling is an art (or rather, writing drabbles) and you do it well. Thanks for the tips.

  5. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. And thanks, Pat, for letting me write here.


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