three drabbles

A while back I started going to an informal writers’ group here in Hamburg.

One evening someone mentioned the drabble, a story form I’d never heard of.

The word itself at first glance seems too close to dabble to take very seriously, though once you start on one you’ll see how difficult it is to do.

A drabble is supposed to test the writer’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.Ā  These ones are all true stories on the same theme, each as close as possible to 100 words long.


Con artist escape

He approached me at my table, sat down, and soon was calling me friend.

We will have a good time at the party tomorrow night, he said.

Just let me call my mechanic to see if my car is ready.

Bad news, he said. It needs a new clutch, and I’m short of cash. Will you lend me $80 until tomorrow?

It sounds like a great time, I said, but I have to go back to my hotel to get the money.Ā  Will you wait for me?

It would have been fun to go that party, had there been one.

mont st michel

Lies at the office

We don’t pay overtime here, the boss said.

Little did he know I knew where they kept the bills.

Sure enough, he’d sent the client an invoice for overtime he didn’t pay us.

He was lying to us, lying to the client, and pocketing the difference.

I was so pissed off, I gave notice the next day.

Telling colleagues the score gave mixed results.

Two more quit like I did, but others resented me.

I guess some would prefer not to know.

mud flats low tide

Lies all the time

I asked my married friend why she never wore a wedding ring.

Because I lost it, can’t find it, and my flute playing! It gets in the way.

She went rigid telling me, eyes fixed, voice robotic.

This from someone who’d told me she was a good liar.

The ride back was filled with meaningless words.

When she left I said: I don’t know when I’ll see you again.

I did my best to make sure I never did, and it worked.

Do I miss her? In the way a recovered cancer patient misses his tumour.

13 Responses to “three drabbles”

  1. 1 Jul
    September 16, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Nice. I especially like the first one.

  2. 5 Khaled
    September 16, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Very well done!

  3. September 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    What an interesting form! I’ll have to try it sometime. Thanks for sharing.

  4. September 18, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    To be honest, I don’t think much of the fixed word count formats, so I will never “drabble” in them. A great story is told in just the right amount of words.
    Not that what you posted isn’t great – I liked “lies at the office” best.

  5. 8 TC
    September 18, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    If only my students could write drabbles instead of essays,
    I’d have a life on the weekends! Love them.

  6. September 19, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Brillian, I am in! Please provide more details!

  7. September 20, 2009 at 4:32 am

    I was entering a monthly poetry contest for a while. The limit was 100 words. You could use fewer, but no more. It was incredibly difficult – like playing that old game of “pick-up sticks”. After a while I knew if I pulled out one more word, it was going to collapse. Eventually I learned to rephrase, look for different ways of saying things rather than just subtracting words.

    I’d never heard the word drabble. Love that it’s old Monty Python. I’ll probably never use the form, but it’s a terrific discipline and probably worth playing with every now and then.

  8. September 23, 2009 at 9:47 am

    oo i liked the last one the best. wait, did you write these? i bet if i read the hundred comments above mine here i would find out, but, well, i just can’t bear to do that, so instead i’ll just be that ass who asks the same question someone else just asked and didn’t listen for the answer…

    where do you find an english-language writing group in germany? oh man, something like that might make my day. i keep thinking, a book club would be rad, then realize no one would want to read the shit that i want to read in english, and forget the idea again.

    • September 23, 2009 at 10:55 am

      Hi ccg- we didn’t find one, we made our own! The founder had been looking for some courses and of course found none, so decided to go searching for his own solutions. Last I read, your were in Cologne, right? There are a lot of English-speaking expats there.

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