Five Things

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Synonyms: 5 things
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Five Things... is a writing form or structure that requires a set of multiple scenes that are related to each other in some way without being in the same chronological timeline.


Five Things... originated back in 2001 [1] with Basingstoke's Smallville fic Five Things That Aren't True.[2] The story was a set of five scenes related without necessarily being in the same timeline and without any obvious connection between the events of each one.

After Basingstoke's story was posted, the form exploded in popularity, prompting numerous challenges (including this one at SGA_flashfic) and other stories based on the theme.


With popularity came evolution of the form into multiple interpretations, the most common of which is five separate sections that all share a similar theme, such as snapshots of alternative universes, or other moments that never happened in canon, but may be five moments in an over-arching narrative. A popular form is "Five Things That Never Happened to X," in which generally the only thing the sections have in common is that they are all AU and all feature the same central character; another common variation is "Five Times X Didn't Do Y... and One They Did," e.g., Five Complaints that Ianto Jones has Thought About Registering Concerning Torchwood (and One that He Did) (Accessed 04 August 2008).

Later evolution includes changing the number of separate snapshots being utilized from five. Examples include Three Smallville Fairytales by Koimistress, which included a Clark adopted by Lionel Luthor AU (I. Julian), Martha as a government agent charged with raising Clark (II. Petrie Dish), and a universe where the South won the Civil War (III. Bleeding Kansas).

Another variation begins with four or five snapshots on one theme, and a final snapshot that is different, which can either be known as 4+1 (thus adding to five) or 5+1. Examples of each include The Four Times Michael Almost Called Mia from Tokyo, and Once He Decided Not to Call in New York by aimmyarrowshigh, a The Princess Diaries 4+1 fic, and The Dust of a Hundred Cities by antistar_e, a The Curse Workers 5+1 fic, summarized as "five postcards that are never signed, and one that is."


The Five Things... form grew also into a type of challenge. The first Five Things challenge was hosted by Te sometime prior to March 2003[3][4].

Further Examples


External Links


  1. While not labeled or defined as such, "Four Preludes, and One Short Epilogue on Han Solo or After the Empire Struck Back" by Marcia Brin (1981) in Carbonite Maneuver is a very, very early example of the form. The story is a collection of pieces exploring the possible fate of Han Solo, and was discussed in Han and Leia in Fanfiction.
  2. ClarkLex mailing list, (Accessed 04 August 2008), posted November 30, 2001
  3. Te, Five Things That Never Happened To..., Updated August 1, 2003 Accessed October 11, 2008
  4. The challenge was posted before March 23, 2003, since that is when it ended. Anyone know when it was issued?
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