My last post was a little personal, and clinical, and not about something pleasant.  Today’s post is about something I enjoy!!

DRABBLE: a flash fiction story of exactly 100 words.

The great thing about drabble, or any flash fiction (aka short short, sudden, micro, postcard), is its intensity.  These must be actual stories with a beginning, middle, and end.  The writing is tight.  Some elements are seriously truncated or merely implied, but they must be present in some sense.  This differentiates flash fiction from other short forms of writing, such as the vignette or journal.  It is also not a synopsis, nor is it a blurb, a character sketch, or a scene.

To see how this works, we can look at arguably the most famous flash fiction piece ever, 6 words rumored to have been written by Ernest Hemingway.

“For sale, baby shoes, never worn.”

Here we see a beginning, middle, and end.  We experience tension, action, and emotion.  The elements of conflict and resolution are present.  We even get a sense of character.  Whether it was penned by Hemingway or not, the story is an apt illustration of implication and completeness. One thing we do know about Hemingway–his lean, vigorous style has had a major impact on modern writing.  The principles he promoted are essential to the discipline of drabble and other short fiction.

In a recent meeting of a writers group, we discussed the differences in writing novels and short stories.  (Most of the people in the group are novelists.  I prefer short fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.)  We agreed that the demands of each are very different.  For instance, while both involve storytelling and employ the same basic requirements compositionally, there is much more room for development in a novel.  While most of the novelists cringed at the thought of squishing their story into just a few pages, they agreed that the exercise of writing short fiction is beneficial.  It requires a serious consideration of what is absolutely essential.  It demands the development of skill in both syntax and diction so that those essentials can be delivered in the most concise, impactful way possible.  It strengthens the writer’s focal flexibility, much like a photographer practicing with various lenses.

Writing good flash fiction is more difficult than it appears.  When you add an absolute limit, as with drabble’s exactly 100 words, the challenge escalates.  This type of writing has become much more popular in recent years, partly because of its “quick read” appeal, and partly because it is such a great writing exercise.  But with the number of capable practitioners on the rise, the “exercise” has become more of an art form, and the “quick read” has become a quality choice.

If you are interested in learning more about flash fiction, here are a few sites to visit:

There are a lot of lists and groups where you can get involved this genre online.  My experience with drabble was greatly enhanced by participating in Friday Fictioneers, a weekly writing challenge to compose a flash fiction of 100 words or less based on a photo prompt.  You can check out a few of my own stories below, or click on Friday Fictioneers under “Categories” on the sidebar for a full list.  Most are drabble, and some are better than others.  Hope you enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by.  Check out more A to Z Challenge bloggers here.




  1. chontali says:

    I learned something new from this post. I never heard of the term “dabble”, but I agree with everything you said about the benefits. I started out as a creative writer, and in high school and college I became interested in journalism. I liked it at first but felt that it somewhat drained me from creativity because reporting is often so serious and to the point. I stepped away from writing for a number of years, but recently returned and now see the benefits of learning that style and how it can help a writer’s focus. As a reader, I’ve always preferred Hemingway’s reporter-style writing over his contemporaries like Steinbeck. Great post.

  2. I have always enjoyed flash fiction and you are correct that it is difficult to write. The example of Hemingway’s that you used is an awesome example that quantity of words does not necessarily equate to good writing.

  3. Margo Kelly says:

    I love flash fiction. 🙂 I’m stopping by from the A to Z Challenge. Nice to meet you.

  4. Learned something there, drabble, nice. Happy A to Z.

  5. […] I’d written back in September.  (I did a post earlier during this A to Z Challenge on drabble just in case you are unfamiliar with the term.)   The first time I posted it, I didn’t give […]

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