Monday, 25 August 2014

Your Glorified Book Excerpt is Rejected by Drabble Enthusiasts

Signs of a problem: a polite email tells you that your drabble has not been selected for inclusion in a newsletter.

The symptoms: embarrassment; fury.

You hear that writing a drabble (100 word short story) for a daily newsletter is a great way to showcase your writing talent. So, you rush straight to your novel and look for a chunk of text that looks roughly the right length. Excitedly, you copy and paste the chunk into a drabble-request-form and tidy it up until it fits the required length.

You wait, excitedly, for the newsletter to feature your work. Instead, you get a polite email from a moderator, telling you that the drabble slot is reserved for complete and original stories, not excerpts from books.

“But, ah!” you think, reaching for your laptop. Cunningly, you copy and paste the blurb for your latest novel into the submission form. You even add a sentence so that it has a tidy conclusion.

You wait, once again. Incredibly, the moderators have rejected your work a second time, telling you that the drabble slot is reserved for complete and original stories, not blurbs from books.

Your knee-jerk reaction is one of anger. How dare somebody reject your drabbles? They each took four whole minutes to construct. How much time are you supposed to spend writing one hundred words?

As it happens, significantly longer. The drabble’s brevity creates the impression that it’s an easy form to master. In fact, as any seasoned drabblist will tell you, there’s an art to telling a story in exactly 100 words.

Whether or not you appreciate the time and thought that goes into drabbles, it is never a good idea to respond to any email with: ‘I think my rejection was an error. I am easily the most accomplished author around here. Your moderators must be jealous of my success.’

If you really are the best drabblist in town, the most effective way of showing people is to write a kick-ass drabble. People will soon acknowledge your superiority and moderators will see your name as a symbol of quality. Show, don’t tell.

Additional Blog-Exclusive Advice

By Jonathan Hill
www.jhillwriter.com

This is definitely a case of quality not quantity, size doesn’t matter etc … Drabblists sometimes spend several hours on a single drabble. Not all take this long to write, of course, but there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a drabble cobbled together from existing work. If you value your life amongst other drabblists, do not do this!

So why write a drabble, aside from featuring in a shiny newsletter which you can print and wave in the faces of your friends and family? Producing such concise fiction is actually an excellent writing exercise. It forces you to focus on what really drives a story, what elements are essential to move and shock a reader. There is no room for padding here, and if you find you’re having to pad out your story to reach 100 words, maybe you need to choose something other than ‘My Breakfast Cereal Bowl’. Writing a drabble well can be most rewarding and if you manage to pull off a twist at the end, you might even find you impress someone enough to start a relationship.* Having trouble moving from one book to another? Try writing a drabble, the ultimate palate cleanser.

*link between drabbles and sex not yet proven

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