'It's wonderful!' - Author's surprise discovery of the Norfolk Day Drabble

Author David Wake was delighted when he discovered the Norfolk Day Drabble writing competition

Author David Wake was delighted when he discovered the Norfolk Day Drabble writing competition - Credit: Supplied / Archant

The creator of a writing format called 'the drabble' has described his excitement after stumbling across the contest which uses it to celebrate Norfolk Day.

Novelist David Wake invented the drabble - which involves writing stories of exactly 100 words - while studying at the University of Birmingham during the early 1980s.

So he was surprised to discover a local competition was running, during a recent visit to Norfolk, and said how thrilled he was to learn about the Norfolk Day Drabble, now in its second year.

Creator of the drabble, author David Wake

Creator of the drabble, author David Wake - Credit: Supplied

He said: “I still live in Birmingham, but I was over in Norwich visiting friends and happened to pick up a copy of the Eastern Daily Press. 

“Idly flicking through it, I came across the article about the drabble competition. It is surreal when this happens – as it’s not the first time. 

“It’s quite wonderful to see what the EDP, the National Centre for Writing, and the independent bookshop Bookbugs and Dragon Tales are doing.  I mean, wow.”

Peggy Hughes, executive director of the National Centre for Writing

Peggy Hughes, executive director of the National Centre for Writing - Credit: National Centre for Writing

The drabble was first born when, as an active member – the “chairbeing” – of the university’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, the idea of doing an anthology came up.

“It was a good idea, but a lot of work," he added. “So, I said, what about very short stories of, say, a 100-words exactly. Like all ideas, it just appeared.  

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“I wrote the rules and then the first drabble.” 

The anthology became The Drabble Project and included authors Isaac Asimov, Bob Shaw, and many others. It sold out, raising funds for Books for the Blind. There were also two follow-ups, Double Century and Drabble Who.

And Norfolk Day is not the only event to embrace the humble drabble.

The magazine Towns Womens’ Guild previously ran a competition and there is a WordPress blog entitled The Drabble, dedicated to publishing original fiction, poetry, and non-fiction works of 100 words or less. 

Dan and Leanne Fridd, owners of Bookbugs and Dragon Tales on Timberhill, Norwich. Picture: Sophie Wy

Dan and Leanne Fridd, owners of Bookbugs and Dragon Tales on Timberhill, Norwich - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

Ahead of today's deadline day, Mr Wake has shared his top tips for writing a drabble. 

“Count your words from the back,” he said. 

“If you start – one, two, three, etcetera – from the first word, you begin to read it and so lose count.  Counting from the last word backwards – not 100, 99, 98 etcetera, obviously – avoids this. 

“And it might well turn out to be the first small step to a writing career, so choose your words carefully and, above all, enjoy it.” 

Although he focuses his writing time on longer projects now, he was encouraged that the drabble is still used a lot when teaching writing today. 

"I did try writing a short story for the fans of my Derring-Do Club adventures, and 120,000 words later, I had another novel. That’s me, inventor of the drabble, trying to write short. 

“It does give that sense of the importance of just the right word. 

“Like poetry, you can pack a lot into 100 words.” 

Mr Wake is the author of works including the Derring-Do Club adventures, Samurai Japan, and the comic mystery The Murders of Conky Whallop. 

He is also the co-founder of New Street Authors, a collective of Birmingham-based independent publishers. Find out more at www.davidwake.com

How to enter the Norfolk Day Drabble writing competition:   

Submissions must be 100 words exactly and Google Docs will be used to check the word count. Titles will not be included in the final word count.   

Up to three entries per person, including collaborations. Participants retain rights to their submissions. Entries must be fictional and written in English. Participation is open to anyone who lives in Norfolk or has links with the county.   

The deadline for entries is today at 11.59pm GMT (Monday, July 11 2022). Email submissions to norfolk.day@archant.co.uk with the subject header 'Norfolk Day Drabble Competition'. Include full name, age, and address.

Richardson's is the sponsor of this year's Norfolk Day

Richardson's is the sponsor of this year's Norfolk Day - Credit: Archant

  • Richardson's is the sponsor of this year’s Norfolk Day.   
  • If you are organising something for Norfolk Day, no matter how big or small, then please tell us about it or share a photo so we can give it some promotion. Email norfolk.day@archant.co.uk, tweet @norfolk and use the hashtag #NorfolkDay, or visit the Norfolk Day Facebook group or online store.