Sunday, September 2, 2007

To Drabble or not to Drabble...

To Drabble or not to Drabble...

A drabble is an extremely short work of fiction exactly one hundred words in length, although the term is often misused to indicate a short story of less than 1000 words. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space. Richard N. Hill recently coined the phrase "dribble" to describe a story that is only 50 words.

In drabble contests participants are given a theme and a certain amount of time to write. Drabble contests, and drabbles in general, are popular in science fiction fandoms and in fan fiction. The concept is said to have originated in UK science fiction fandom in the 1980s; the 100-word format was established by the Birmingham University SF Society and popularized online at 100 Words.

The particular language used may greatly affect the ease or difficulty of writing a drabble. For example, the Finnish two-word sentence "Heittäytyisinköhän seikkailuun?" translates English as "What if I should throw myself into an adventure?", a sentence of nine words. This density of meaning makes Finnish a much easier language in which to write a drabble than English. Even easier languages would be those which exhibit extreme polysynthesis, such as Cherokee, where an entire English sentence can often be expressed in a single word.

The term comes from Monty Python's 1971 Big Red Book. In this book, "Drabble" was a word game where the first participant to write a novel wins. In order to make the game possible in the real world, the science fiction fandom agreed that 100 words will suffice.

"Drabble" is also sometimes used colloquially to refer to any short piece of literature, usually fan fiction, where brevity is its outstanding feature. Some stories, called "drabbles" by their authors or readers, total as many as 1,000 words in length. However, such a story might more accurately be termed "flashfic", "shortfic," or "ficlet".
Similar concepts are flash fiction, microfiction and nanofiction.

-- From Wikipedia

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