Write A Drabble Today

Don’t expect this to be a super-quick exercise…

Today you’re going to write a were a story in 100 words. This also known as a Drabble.

The Prompt

Write a story in 100 words

  • With a story this short, you have about 25 words to open the story and about 10 words at the end to wrap things up. The rest of the words hold the meat of the story.
  • Often it’s easier to write the story a little longer and cut it down.
  • Being concise doesn’t mean leaving out detail. You just have to make sure (probably on a rewrite) that every word is doing double duty. If you’re describing something make sure it reflects the mood of the character as well, for example.
  • Don’t expect this to be a super-quick exercise. A hundred words is not many and it can be difficult to shoehorn a story into such a small space. You are going to need to build in time to revise it.
  • The good news is that writing a 100 word story and revising it still takes less time than writing a 3,000 word story.
  • If you need some inspiration check out the site 100 Word Story. Read a few to get the idea of what can be done with so few words.

Go!

Post a comment to let us know how you’re getting on, share your story, share tips or ask for help!

May 21 – Limits – Real Time

The Prompt

Write a story that unfolds in real time

The Prompt

Write a story that unfolds in real time

Tips

  • If a story unfolds in real time, you can’t have any ‘meanwhile’, or ‘three hours later’  or ‘earlier today’ scenes. Everything must flow chronologically and in as close to real time as possible.
  • If a character puts the kettle on, to make a cup of tea, you’re going to have to give them something to do or someone to talk to for the full two and a half minutes it takes for four cups of water to boil.
  • You can hop from one character’s perspective to another, as long as you stick to the timeline established at the start. If there’s a knock at the door, you could jump into the head of the person outside the door, but only right after they knocked.
  • You don’t have to time everything (like my example of the kettle) and you don’t have to worry about how fast different readers read; just try to keep everything flowing at a reasonably believable real-time pace. (Have you ever watched an action movie set in a city you know? Isn’t it irritating when there’s a car chase down a street that you know is only a few blocks long, yet seems to be three miles long in the movie? Don’t do that.)

GO!

Did you discover any time-shifting techniques that you would usually have used without noticing? Or was this very natural for you?

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

May 20 – Limits: Present Tense

The Prompt

Write A Story In The Present Tense

The Prompt

Write A Story In The Present Tense

Tips

  • The present tense grants an immediacy not there in the past tense.
  • This is great for thrillers, because we can’t be sure that the authorial voice (or first person narrator) will survive until the end.
  • You can jump around in time, but each segment must be in the present tense. You can indicate a shift in time by having your characters talk ‘to camera’ or by noting that the sun is now setting or that the morning dew has burned off the grass at last…

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

May 3 – 640 Words

Day 3 – Limits: 640 Words

This is the second of our recurring “limits” posts. As the month progresses you’ll come across all sorts of limits: time, word count, point of view, structure. If you get stuck, try rewriting an earlier story in a new way, using these ‘limits’ posts.

The Prompt

Write a story in 640 words

Tips

  • Why 640 words? It’s the length of a traditional newspaper opinion column. It’s long enough for a set up, some flavor and a parting shot, but not much more.
  • Limit your intro and ending to about 50 words each, leaving yourself 540 words to set up and deliver an interesting moment in time for a fascinating character.
  • Overwrite and then cut, if you must. Think about every word, every description. Does it need to be there. Do your descriptions also tell us about the character’s state of mind? Is every piece of dialogue weighted with things unspoken, double meanings, misunderstanding?
  • If you need to cut words, can you get away without dialogue tags? There’s no need to say “he said” if you’re following it with the stage direction “John slammed his mug onto the formica counter and turned away”. Can you start the story later in the scene? Can you hint at or imply something that you have explicitly told the reader, with a word or a glance?
  • If you have finished your story and not yet reached the word limit, what can you add without bloating the story? Is it clear where this story is taking place from the noises, smells and sights the characters notice? It the timeframe or period clear? Do your characters give away the subtext of what they’re saying with unconscious body language? Can you add a few sentences of a different length, to change the pace? Like this?

GO!

Psst! Did writing a short-short story take less time than writing a 2,000-word story? No? I didn’t think so!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

May 1 – Limit Yourself To 40 Minutes

Day 1 – Limits: 40 Minutes

Freedom is horrible. If you are free to do anything, write anything, then there is an infinity-minus-one of ways you could do it. That’s a lot of words, ideas and characters you have to reject just to get something on the page.

This is the power of limits (‘write a sonnet; here are the rules’) and challenges (‘write a story a day; of course some of them will be rubbish, do it anyway’).

Today we are exploring time limits. By limiting the amount of time you have to write this story, you will be forced to make quick decisions and not second-guess yourself.

The Prompt

Write a story in 40 minutes

Tips

  • Remember this story is a first draft. It does not have to be perfect. It must, however, have a beginning, a middle and an end that you can revise later.
  • Use the first ten minutes to write an opening and think about your characters. Use the next 20 minutes to write the meat of the story. You’ll start to get an idea of where it’s going about half way through. You’ll also start to have ideas for complications, digressions, a full-length novel. Great. Jot them in the margins or put them in square brackets, and drag your story back to the point. Use the last ten minutes to construct an ending and read over the whole thing for mistakes.
  • By all means make notes as you read over your completed draft, but do not revise it today.
  • If you like the story, put a date on your calendar for next month, to revise it.
  • If you don’t like the story, take a few minutes to figure out why? Is your main character flat? What flaw can you give a hero tomorrow, to spice up that story? Did you take too long to get to the point? Maybe tomorrow’s story should start in the middle of an action scene.
  • Don’t waste a lot of time coming up with a story for this exercise. If you must, retell a story you’ve written before, or tell a bedtime story, a fairytale, a fable, a Greek myth, a Norse myth, a reimagining of “Atlas Shrugged” if the characters were bunnies and the railroad were a new super-warren…

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.