Friday, 4 September 2015

Dribbles and Dabbles with Drabbles

Dribbles? Drabbles?

Not altogether gobbledygook if you bear with me!

When you're writing, "dribbles" often describes the fragmented way the storytelling progresses: a dribble of inspiration here, a dribble of frantic scribbling there, seasoned with a dribble of banging your head on the keyboard!

"Drabbles" on the other hand, are a method I find useful to help pull my "dribbles" of creativity together along the writing journey. I hope this idea may help you, too. Sometimes when those "dribbles" seem to be drying up, a "drabble" or two can prime the pump and get your story-brain refreshed, released and ready to weave those words into gold.

I'm reaching the tipping point of my new novel. The research is done. The plot is arced. The procrastinating side-projects are frustratingly complete. The blind alleys of my storyland are cordoned off with Hi-Vis "Do Not Enter" tape. The characters are alive in my head. I can hear what they'd say and picture the situations they're about to get themselves into. The sense of place just off the Yorkshire Coast is so real to me I can smell the seaweed and feel the spray stinging my characters' skin and the change of light before dusk. I've chalk under my nails from clinging onto the sheer cliffs in my imagination. I'm raring to go! My first draft is beckoning me to plunge over the edge of those risky still-blank pages and swim for dear life to the shore at the end of the tale.

So, when your dribbles run dry, maybe it's time for a dabble with a drabble!

The wiki says: Drabble: A drabble is a short work of fiction of around one hundred words in length, not necessarily including the title. The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space.

In other words, flash fiction. For me, it's just a great way of getting my writing flowing whenever it stalls. If I have a scene from the novel that's in my mind for later, getting in the way of the current plotline, a "drabble" dealing with that character, that plot twist, that conflict, that setting, is a way of getting creative instead of blocked. Maybe the seeds from the drabble will be grist to the mill of a new story, an unexpected turn, a deepening of some exchange within the book. It doesn't even have to be connected. A drabble can get you writing again when you're overwhelmed. It's non-threatening, expendable, achievable almost anywhere, anytime. It's that blank page clothed in purpose, colour, forward motion.

It can even become a part of your work in progress. It can ignite a dormant creative spark. It can be your own private pool of light-bulb moments. It can be a short holiday break for your imagination to go exploring again before coming home rejuvenated to the work in hand. It can be just what you need it to be!

Wishing you joy and word-woven blessings, whether you're a fellow writer, reader, a fan of GOATSUCKER HARVEST or you've just wandered in to do a bit of procrastination from your own personal challenges today! Welcome!

"Tropical Storm Zeta 2005" by NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center 

Here's a quick 102-word drabble I've written which may or may not get its seat at the banquet in my WIP:

Waves roll upside down, sucking the sky beneath through lips like a dolphin's. Head spinning now.
A guillemot skittles out of a cliff-face inverted inches from her nose. A vortex of fish oil tang closes her throat. 
"Did you see it? Careful! Sit down, you'll have us overboard!"
Disembodied voices far above.
"Below, I mean..." Trying to correct herself, steady herself. The strap creaks. Too much give in it.
Blood-singing, suffocating closeness all around, yet the salt spray's icy, flinging itself down in an arc and falling back upwards into stormclouds.
The scream seems to be her own as the sea explodes.

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