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I'm trying to write my very first one shot and I was wondering if you have any tips on how to write a one shot? I have a plot but I'm not sure on how to start it, so I'm asking you for help. Any ideas?


*Googles “one shot”*

Well, I would imagine standards depend on a lot. Is it an original fiction one shot or a fan fiction one shot? If it’s original fiction, then I’d call that more of a short story and look for resources on how to write good short stories. If it’s fan fiction, then I’d read one shots from the fandom for which you’re writing to get a feel for what is expected. 

Fan fiction, despite its “anything goes” reputation, tends to have pretty strict tropes and expectations for its writers to follow, and only truly ambitious work even attempts to get away with breaking the mold.

Here are some resources on writing one shots:

But it seems like you have a question about how to begin your story, so here are some resources for that as well:

Fan fiction assumes a reader’s prior knowledge of the Canon (with a capital C) of that fandom. For this reason, many fan fiction writers gloss over what original fiction writers would identify as important to the beginning of a story. Sound strange? Think about it. Since the reader is already aware of Canon aspects of the story, character introductions and development, setting descriptions, and explanations of things like magic systems or future technologies all take a back seat to the plot. 

This can be good or bad.

The good news: Your audience is built in. They’re reading your story because they like the source material, and, assuming your fandom is of a certain size, you’re sure to have an audience. Some fans aren’t fussed about plot so much as they are interested in seeing non-Canon ships sail or different character perspectives on the same story or what House Katniss Everdeen would have been sorted into had she gone to Hogwarts (it’s totally Slytherin).

The bad news: As the fan fiction writer who is clearly taking plot into consideration, the burden is on you to create a plot so riveting that it can set your story apart from hundreds, maybe thousands, of others. You share characters and conventions and settings with many writers, including the original creator. That can translate to a lot of pressure on the plot where in original fiction that pressure to be creative and “original” is spread out among all of the narrative elements.

There are, of course, other considerations like “good” characterization, writing style, tropes employed, knowledge and application of Canon, etc., but I believe the real test of a fan fiction’s worth to readers is in its plot. The more intriguing the plot, the more potential it has to be popular in the fandom.

I am, however, excluding one shots that fall into the “No Plot, Just Sex” and “Total Fan Service” categories, as these type of one shots are pretty intensely focused on wish fulfillment and not so much on narrative merit. That is not to say they aren’t “good” or fun to read, they’re just not the focus of this post.

My advice? Worry about telling a great story and not so much about how “original” it is. After all, you’re writing your fan fiction for yourself as much as others. I think you should have fun doing it, don’t you? 

Thank you for your question, and I hope this helps!


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