Friday, July 3, 2009

Pastiche Does Some Target Practice: A One-Shot Hits the Spot


Now we get to talk about the one-shot! Tiny, packaged and pretty like babies, petit fours, or those half-sized water bottles—sometimes miniaturizing something can make it infinitely better! I do believe this is also the case for the one-shot.

Basic Facts:
A one-shot, of course, is a single scene or a short story that is one chapter. In our fandom, the vast majority of one-shots seem to have been found through contests. Of note are the Sexy Edward and DTE contests. Other popular categories include missing moments, slash one-shots, and one-shot series.

The Newbie Writer

Now, for a newbie writer, one-shots are a mixed bag. It is harder to gain readership with a one-shot than it is with a multi-chaptered fic, BUT writing a one-shot is one of the best ways to dip your toes into writing. (1) One-shots allow you to really focus on the writing aspect as opposed to the rushed pace of storytelling. (2) Writing a full-length story and actually completing it is a challenging task. If you’ve never done it before, maybe it’s simply best to start with a one-shot.

Where to Post? Where to Find?

So, let’s say you’ve gotten your one-shot completely written up, where do you post it? Well, anywhere you can, but I recommend writing for a contest first. Contests are a great way to get readers involved. Otherwise, post to Twilighted, FF, and especially LiveJournal communities that feature your stories:By clicking on “user info” on these sites, you can find out what they’re about, what the rules for posting are, and links to more sites and affiliates,typically.

One Shots vs. Multi-Chaptered Stories

Some of my favorite rec sites do the great task of separating out their favorite one-shots from multi-chaptered fic. I like this, because I think readers read one-shots and longer fics for different reasons. I personally read one-shots when I just want a quick escape. I’m sure everyone else has their for-and-against reasons too (go ahead and put them in the comment section below).
Is Writing a One-Shot Different than Writing a Chapter Story?

They have different paces than a novel. Sometimes an entire novel can be condensed into a really good short story. As examples, I’d point to
by gallantcorkscrews and
The Soul Feel Its Worth
by poppyandpeony. Both pieces move through time via critical scenes—the filler is snipped away—and the resulting story lines are crisp and clear and therefore, all the more heartfelt.

Most of the one-shots in our fandom tend to be the romantic lemon—on speed. Boy meets girl. They instantly like each other. There’s the hesitation, the angst, and then something happens, a word is whispered, an unexpected note reveals all—or hell, girl jumps on boy. Walla!

Minisinoo has already applied some of her genius on whether or not your style as an author would be a better fit for one shots or multi-chaptered fics, so I’m including a link to the article she sent me.

My final piece of advice on short stories is that you may want to look outside of fandom for original inspiration. I recommend the short stories by Annie Proulx (Brokeback Mountain), Stephen King (I’m still not over his short which inspired the Shawshank Redemption), Truman Capote (A Christmas Memory), and Jhumpla Lahiri (all of her shorts) as a step into the amazing and great.

Give Some a Shot:

Finally, being the busybody that I am, I went and harassed authors for their favorite one-shots in the fandom. Thus, you get a slew of brilliant examples. Enjoy.


Form 1040
, by giselle-lx
A non-smutty one-shot from Carlisle's point of view that makes Nessie appealing and winsome. The topic of taxes is mundane, but the fine writing and the touching quality of this vignette are not. Set seven months post-BD.


Night in Nantes
by regatta-bay
Best "I don't want to say good night just yet" that I’ve ever read.


The Golden Mean
by ophelietta
Ophelietta’s opening quote, “In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes…” is what sold me. Already, I am reminded that we, as people, always have a choice and sometimes it does not have to be the two most obvious. For Bella, everyone always just assumed it had to be one boy or another, but what if.... what if she picked the one person we always forgot about – herself? This ficlet shows us the girl in the story through poetic and simplistic prose that never distracts but only enhances the most important lesson so many of us have yet to learn - there is always a third choice. This story is not for the hard-core romantic, but for women who love the most important relationship they will ever have - the one they have with themselves. It is empowering, genuine and a small piece of wisdom I hope to impart to my own child one day.


The Truth About Juliet
by luvcali76
The Truth About Juliet is an interpretation of what Bella would be like two years after Edward left her and things hadn't turned out the way they did in Italy. Why I love it: It's heartbreaking and I'm a masochist, pure and simple. Luvcali's imagery of what's going on in Bella's head and what's happening around her is breathtakingly beautiful, even through all the pain. I can't think of a better example of a one-shot.


Six Inches
by Rosalee Lorraine
Six Inches is poetically written, sexy but not pure smut. It includes the sweetest Edward wanting, yet not pushing, Jasper. It starts with them touching, exploring, and completes the act, but in a romantic, sweet, caring way - even though it's a one shot, which is not an easy thing to do.


I Keep Smoking Cigarettes
by Stretch
The gifted writer can flip your understanding of life with one well placed turn of phrase. 321 words is all it takes for Stretch to give you that OMG moment and smack away your misconceptions about Rosalie Hale's and Leah Clearwater's assessments of Bella & Edward's relationship.

Halo Jones

The Making of Emmett Cullen
by Jfly/Thallium81
I really it like cause it gives a great back story to the couple most prone to grating clich├ęs in twilightffland. And it's Jfly, the gal who turns empty ff calories into whole grained goodness! [P’s note: This won the “Make It Count Contest.”]


A Forest's Gift
by windtear
It has neither graphic language nor graphic lemons, but it's a sweet tale of a Forest God, Edward, and the human he falls for. It's set in BPOV and interestingly enough, also has Jacob as the wolf in a short bit in which Edward now reminds him that he had his time to have her, and that she came willingly to Edward's 'altar'. Not the best written, but the story behind it is rich and sweet and reminds me of Nora Roberts. This one was for the "Sexy Eddie" contest, and yes, it's the one I voted for.


A Consumation Devoutly to be Wished
by Bratanimus
At the time of this story's posting in April 2008, I hadn't seen much Twi-fiction yet that gave us a truly vampire Edward up to and including the sex act. Sex here serves as character analysis. Edward and Bella have decided to explore that "gray area" between kissing and coitus before the wedding night in order to prepare Edward so that Bella doesn't become dinner. In preparation, to be warm for her, Edward "cooks" himself in hot bathwater. As odd as it sounds, it works. In the hands of a good author, the most unlikely premise becomes brilliantly original.


Tis Better to Receive
by Thallium81(Jfly)/upthedownslide
What I love about this one-shot, aside from the fact that it is a one-shot collab, and that in and of itself is a feat, is how they illustrate Edward's life pre-Bella, the longing and loneliness, in such a way that I want to: A.) Read more. B.) Give him my own present, if yanno what I mean ~winks~ C.) Actually read the first book again to feel resolution, and D.) Cut my wrists a little. That's a successful formula in my book-o-masochism. Plus, angsty masturbation has never looked so festive.

Pastiche’s contribution:

The Price is Right
by Princess Bertha
The premise is ridiculous but satirically brilliant: the Cullens lose all their money, and while they could probably earn money in any number of ways, it turns out that the fastest and easiest way to refill the coffers is to prostitute Edward Cullen’s hotness. Does prudish Edward actually have to cheat on Bella? Of course not! He just needs to dazzle the willing ladies. This could have been the stupidest badfic ever, instead it’s executed with perfect comedic climax. And I mean “climax” in every sense of the word. I do.

Current Contests:

Age of Edward

Sparkle and Snarkfull

Tatward and Inkella

Pastiche Pen is a propagator of fanfic reader and writer love and a fellow believer in fandom hippie values. You can find her here


  1. CDunbar actually kinda stole mine. The Truth About Juliet is AWESOME. One-shots are great for angst and humor, I think. Humor for the obvious, but angst because you can take this kinda snapshot, and few expect it to resolve sufficiently. Which is kind of awesome in its own right. Angst in RL is rarely entirely resolved.

  2. Holy shit.

    It's one thing to get a few reviews on Twilighted. It's quite another to make my weekly visit to TLYDF and see my story mentioned in an article. So thanks for making this Fourth of July extra special--in a totally non-patriotic sort of way.

    I read Minisinoo's article and found myself nodding my head in agreement with all she had to say, but the nodding was especially fervent when she said this: "the short story writer captures a moment...that must carry the force of the story."

    I don't really plan my stories. They appear as a flash, a moment, and if that moment sticks around in my head long enough, I begin to try to make it come to life. An outline is created, thrown out and recreated, and the words are in constant flux until I think I'm done--until I'm sure that that moment has been realized.

    Intertwined began with the image of Bella looking at a childhood picture that had an unknowing Edward in it as well. Unfurnished Eyes was the two of them in the meadow, Edward trailing his finger along the scar in her palm. And Soul Feels Its Worth was his mother handing him that diamond heart so very long ago.

    I have thought about writing a multi-chaptered fic, but the moments that come to my mind are just that--moments--and they always seem to turn out best in one-shots. It might also be a lack of time and energy, or that pesky procrastination problem I have, but I really do think my writing style--and really, my whole writing process--lends itself to one-shots, so that's what I'm sticking with for the very near future.

    Pastiche is right about the con's of solely writing one-shots, but I don't find myself desiring to grow a fan base (I don't even post on I really just enjoy writing these little moments, trying to make them into something beautiful, and then getting them out of my head.

    Of course, it's awesome if someone else thinks they're beautiful, too.

    Thanks again for coaxing me out of of the lurker shadows. It means a lot. And I hope to have an entry in the Age of Edward contest...if it finishes itself in time.



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