Dribs and drabs and writing

I went to Wordstock last weekend. It’s a writers’ conference held almost annually in Portland Oregon and it had just moved to a new venue. The move, not surprisingly, had a few pluses and minuses, just like the rewrite of an old novel. (Did I mention, I’m rewriting an old novel – Imaginary Numbers – soon to be released by Indigo Sea Press?)

20151107_103408 20151107_140558 20151107_150600


  1. Those of us lucky enough to get into a lecture hall could actually hear the speakers
  2. Those of us not standing out in the rain were in a very pleasant, inspiring venue (the Art Museum)
  3. The guy keeping the floor dry so nobody would slip in the crowds trying to cram through tiny doorways did a wonderful job.

Minusses: see above.

What stayed the same was the quality of the speakers – they were great.

And what I learned:

  1. You are who you are. You can’t pretend to be someone else – to look like someone else, or to write like someone else – because your critics will tell you who you are.
  2. You’re never too old, too young, too weak, or too anything else (except perhaps too scared). You can swim the impossible (Cuba to Florida), write the impossible, paint the impossible, and most importantly dream the impossible. Those dreams should never be discarded (well, unless they involve hurting somebody, I guess).
  3. Culture determines what people see and believe – in a world without artificial light, it’s really not so hard to believe in witchcraft.
  4. Friendship determines what people do and achieve – trust your friends to help you, accept their help, and praise them for their help.
  5. You can find inspiration anywhere. (Where else would I have found myself comparing swimmers to angels?)

Since this is the week of the Festival of Drabbles celebration, I’ll try to turn the above into a drabble writing exercise.


  1. A place where you would never be found, dead or alive. A shark cage perhaps?
  2. A person or creature who is not in that location but would like to be. The shark maybe?
  3. What makes them want to be there?
  4. How will they try to get there?
  5. Why will they fail?
  6. What will they do when they fail?


  1. A one-sentence introduction to your character, and a one-sentence introduction to your location – one paragraph
  2. A one-sentence answer to each of 3, 4, and 5 – second paragraph
  3. A one-sentence answer to 6 – third paragraph.


You now have a three-paragraph micro-story that’s almost a drabble.

  1. Count the words. If less than a hundred, you need to add more description. If less, you need to remove some.
  2. Once your story gets longer than 100 words, start shrinking and polishing it. Look for
    1. What is most important in the story? Don’t delete it.
    2. What is least important in the story? Can you take it out?
    3. Any repeated words or phrases – what can you replace them with?
    4. Any adjectives and adverbs – can you replace the noun or verb with a stronger one?
    5. Sentence connectors – do you need all those ands, buts, afters, thens, etc?
    6. long sentences or sets of sentences – can you say the same thing more simply, with fewer words? Do you even need to say it? (see above)

Now you have something close to 100 words. Add or delete judiciously and you’re there. It’s a drabble.

Once you’ve written it, don’t forget to join the fun and look for more at http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/festival-of-drabbles-2015-calendar-of.html


4 thoughts on “Dribs and drabs and writing”

  1. “Any adjectives and adverbs – can you replace the noun or verb with a stronger one?”

    I have found sites on the web that will color highlight nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. It is a great tool to use on your last draft to amp up your work.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s