AskDefine | Define drabble

User Contributed Dictionary



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Etymology 1



  1. To wet or dirty, especially by dragging through mud.

Etymology 2

From a word game in Monty Python's Big Red Book in which the first player to write a novel wins; the UK Science Fiction fandom agreed that 100 words will suffice; not, as is sometimes stated, from the surname of the author Margaret Drabble


  1. A fictional story, typically in fanfiction, that is exactly 100 words long.
  2. A fictional story, typically in fanfiction, only a few hundred words long.
Usage notes
The "100 words" limit is the original meaning, although in practice (and drabble purists have denounced this extension), it frequently extends up to around 500 words, with a variety of limits used.

Extensive Definition

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 fewer 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.
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 fandom 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. Beccon Publications published three volumes, "The Drabble Project" (1988) and "Drabble II: Double Century" (1990), both edited by Rob Meades and David Wake, and "Drabble Who" (1993), edited by David J. Howe and David Wake. It was 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, it was agreed that 100 words would 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," in addition to the older "short-short story". Richard N. Hill recently coined the phrase "dribble" to describe a story that is only 50 words. Michael Kent of The Next Big Writer used "droubble" for a double drabble, a story in exactly 200 words. More information and correct definitions are found at Save the Drabble.
The Drabblecast is a short fiction podcast that often features 100-word drabbles.
Similar concepts are flash fiction, microfiction and nanofiction.

External links

drabble in Asturian: Drabble
drabble in German: Drabble
drabble in Spanish: Drabble
drabble in Finnish: Raapale
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