A Drabble, a Dribble—Short Fiction by Any Name

By Maeve Maddox

Not too long back, in the Before Times, when I still dared go to big events like authors conferences, I experienced the delight of winning very first place in the Flash Fiction category at William Bernhardts Red Sneaker conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I d composed the story sometime in the past, however had never done anything with it. When I saw its word-count certified it as “flash fiction,” I felt the same delight as M. Jourdain (The Bourgeois Gentleman) when he learned he d been speaking prose. I d written flash fiction without understanding it.
Brief stories are absolutely nothing new. Aesop had a lock on them five hundred years before the Common Era. Whats new is what they are called in the twentieth century.
In the 1940s, Cosmopolitan publication was kept in mind for releasing fiction of different lengths in each edition, including what they called a “brief short” story of 1,000 words.
Starting in the 1970s, specialized terms for brief fiction removed. Definitions vary and word-counts differ, relying on whose website or contest guidelines are spoken with. Here are some terms for brief fiction with the approximate date of origin and the word-count related to it:
microstory (1973) 100 wordsflash fiction (1977) 1,000 wordssudden fiction (1983) 1,500 wordspostcard fiction (1985) 500 words55fiction (1987) 55 wordsnano-fiction (1994) 300 wordstwitterature (2006) 280 charactershint fiction (2007) 25 words
Without a doubt, my preferred terms for a short fiction story are drabble– a story of 100 words– and its offshoot, dribble, a story of 50 words.
Drabble as a term for a story of 100 words came from in the 1980s among British sci-fi fans. In the Monty Python Big Red Book (1971 ),” Drabble” is a word game in which the very first participant to compose a novel, wins. The Birmingham University Science Fiction Society adapted the video games guidelines to the real life by decreasing novel-length to a hundred words.
The drabble/dribble family has actually supplied flash fiction writers with beneficial systems of measurement:
drabble = 100 wordsdribble = 50 wordshalf a dribble = 25 wordsdrabble and a half = 150 wordsdouble drabble (aka a drouble) = 200 words
My own experience with flash fiction did not end with winning the contest. Soon later– probably on the strength of my win– I was welcomed to evaluate a flash fiction contest. Wishing to be as objective as possible, I prepared an evaluating rubric. This might or might not be helpful to readers preparing to go into one of the numerous brief fiction contests to be found online.
What one judge was looking for:
Length: 1,000 words maximumFormatting: 12-point Times Roman, double-spacedDeadline: [date specified] Plot: A story that activates an emotion in the readerCharacterization: Well drawn charactersDevelopment: A change from the beginning to the endLanguage: Standard English spelling and use when suitable. Nonstandard English appropriate to the characters.Conclusion: An effective last line
Short fiction, whatever one selects to call it, should possess the components of a satisfying story of any length. It will have a clear start, middle, and end. It will begin with exposition, display increasing action, and finish with a climax, falling action, and resolution. Thats a high order for a hundred words, or perhaps a thousand. Making the attempt is an excellent way to sharpen the craft.

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I d composed flash fiction without understanding it.
Beginning in the 1970s, specialized terms for brief fiction took off. Here are some terms for brief fiction with the approximate date of origin and the word-count associated with it:
The Birmingham University Science Fiction Society adapted the video games rules to the genuine world by minimizing novel-length to a hundred words.
Brief fiction, whatever one picks to call it, must possess the elements of a rewarding story of any length.

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