Drabbling: a fun, easy writing excersize

I’ve learned a fun writing technique in my travels around the Web: the Drabble.

From Fanlore:

Traditionally, a drabble is a piece of fiction that is exactly 100 words long. <snip> The term itself comes from Monty Python’s 1971 Big Red Book, which declared the drabble a word game in which two to four players compete to be the first to write a novel.[1] Drabbles emerged within British science fiction fandom in the 1980s; the Birmingham University SF society is credited as being the organization that set the length at 100 words.[1] The form remained popular throughout the decade, and the British science-fiction publisher Beccon put out three books of drabbles between 1988-1993.

Usually a challenge for drabble writing provides a prompt to inspire the writer. Prompts can be words, photos, phrases, songs as well. Here’s a holiday drabble I wrote in response to the prompt: ‘Skating.’  I then searched for a quotation using that word for extra inspiration, and I had a character in mind.

Title: Thin Ice
Author: Patrise

Prompt: Skating

Pairing/characters: a lost boy
Rating: G

Word count: 100

“In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flashes. Hot. No, cold! Dark, light tumbling like a stone. Roaring fills his ears. He sputters, scrabbling on the icy rocks like a mad, blind thing.

“What the…!” someone hauls him up by his collar, bundling him in a rough cloak. “Ye damn fool, on the ice, were ye?” a blurry face appears, breath redolent of pipeweed and firewhisky.”Nuh..” his mouth doesn’t work properly, he can’t recall who he is, much less form a sentence.

“Well, c’mon then, laddie. We’ll get you into something warm and dry.” He staggers after the man lest he melt into the dark forest.


The process of writing 100 words I find strangely pleasing, like carving and polishing something to it’s essential form. There are phrases and words I don’t want to let go of, but then find a more concise way of portraying.

In case you’d like to try your hand at drabbling,  here’s a three-word prompt:

  • spire
  • tranquility
  • reveal

Use these three words in your 100 word story, and post them in your comment!

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2 thoughts on “Drabbling: a fun, easy writing excersize

  1. Thanks for brining this useful information to our knowledge. I, in reality enjoyed every little thing that you create. Visit http://www.funaok.com for fun and entertainment.

  2. Interesting history of the drabble. Whosoever maligns or belittles small written endeavors need only look here. :DDD

    Here’s my submission…..

    It TRAN- SPIREd that disturbing the -QUILT_Y (remove one ‘i’) REVEALed the sleeping guilty.

    *crosses eyes and sticks out tongue* ;P

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