Big Bang

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For the South Korean band see: Big Bang (Band).
For the exclamation mark (sometimes called a "bang") between two words denoting a trait!character relationship between them see: !
See also: Story Length, Reverse Bang, challenge, List of Big Bangs
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A Big Bang (or "Bang" for short) is a specific type of challenge usually involving long fics and accompanying artwork. This type of challenge is a reprise of the old zine tradition of collaboration between artists and writers for internet fandoms.

Most Big Bangs have a similar format: Writers sign up to take part in the challenge and begin writing stories. When the early drafts of the stories are available, each one is assigned one or more artists, or artists might claim stories from posted summaries. Artists create fanart to go along with the story. This art can take the form of illustrations, manips, photo collages, vids, icon sets, etc.

In 2008, the Bandom Big Bang provided each story with a soundtrack, rather than artwork, since it seemed more appropriate for a music-based fandom and because fanart is not as common in bandom. There was some fanart produced for the challenge as well.

Some Big Bangs have specific prompts for the authors to work from, or general themes, while others leave everything but the minimum word count up to the individual authors.

Open Big Bangs (as opposed to the "closed" big bangs described above where participants must sign up to take part) require no sign-ups or commitments and involve little to no moderation of content — participants simply produce and post their content during the designated time frame, usually under a designated hashtag. Fanweeks (and fan months) are a popular example of this kind of Big Bang, although some open big bangs are much longer. The HashiMada BigBang is nine weeks long.

A Reverse Bang is a type of Big Bang in which fanart is created first, and stories are written for those fanart pieces rather than the other way around.


A banner featuring Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter with the text 'Big Bang Baby' next to them
The banner for the first Big Bang, Baby Challenge taking place in 2005

The original Big Bang was a Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy fest taking place in 2005 called the Big Bang, Baby Challenge. It was run by shaggirl, Reena and Aja in an attempt to remedy the lack of "canon-based novel-length H/D fics in the wake of The Order of the Phoenix".

The hallmarks of the original Big Bang challenge included a strict 50,000 word minimum for the writers taking part in the challenge and a focus on artists producing high-quality illustrations for these stories - a minimum of two art pieces per fanfic.

In 2012, Aja recalled:

I don't think any of us were prepared for the Big Bang. (laughs) Because we—essentially the other two creators of the challenge came to me, shaggirl and Reena and they both said to me, "We want to do this challenge and we want you to do it with us," and I was like, Okay! Essentially, they wanted to focus on fan art. And one of the things we've had issues with as a trio is letting go of the idea, because we specifically structured our Big Bang around the idea of illustrated fan art for these epic long sagas of Harry/Draco and their violent passion for each other.[1]

And then we had to be very strict about you know, how many, how many pieces of art every illustrator—every illustrator did, because we wanted the people who had written you know, 50,000 words of fic to feel like they had actually had gotten, you know, at least two pieces of art per. I think we actually bumped it to three pieces of art, or tried to, because we were really really concerned that people, you know, feel like had actually illustrated art for their stories and not just like one really crappy piece of art done in a hurry. So we really really tried to focus on the art, and we tried to focus on, sort of, rewarding the artists for rewarding the fan writers with this gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous art that we all really loved. And the artists were wonderful. We really had great artists the whole time we did the challenge.[1]

The "Big Bang" in the challenge name was not originally intended to refer to the challenge or the challenge format, but rather the relationship between Harry and Draco. However, many fans interpreted it differently, leading to the evolution of its meaning over time {see Terminology).

After the first Big Bang in 2005, other fandoms began to run similarly-formatted challenges and the concept spread outside of Harry Potter fandom. Some other early Big Bangs were the Smallville Big Bang in 2006 and the SPN J2 Big Bang in 2007.


The name of the original fest was chosen to represent the sparks that would fly when Harry and Draco finally got together after years of UST simmering under the surface.

However, many fans interpreted the meaning differently than its creators intended, assuming it to mean a big explosion of long fics and art all at once. In an example of fannish drift, it is that meaning that spread to other fandoms,[2] which upset some Harry/Draco fans

In 2012, Aja said:

The term Big Bang was actually created by—I didn't really like the word actually, I thought it was kind of stupid, but I just let myself be overruled because I was just like, Whatever. They wanted a phrase that would encapsulate Harry and Draco's blinding passion for each other.


Nothing at all to do with fic length! That's what people always get wrong when they talk about the Big Bang. It had nothing at all to do with it. It was about, like, Harry and Draco come together and it's explosive like a Big Bang! (laughs) Literally, that's what it meant. And Shaggy has made a couple of rants about that on her journal too. You can probably look them up if you try.


Well, and again we were always trying to reward the artist or reward the writer with really really wonderful art, and the thing about Big Bangs is that (a) they almost immediately started going down in word limit and (b) they—they didn't require the illustrated art. Like you could patch, like and we—. I personally have really strong feelings about this and I know that the other mods do too. But Dana, Shaggy, actually made a post about it one time her beef was mainly with taking the word Big Bang and applying it to these other challenges that were really not staying true to the spirit of what we thought was the spirit of the challenge. And I thought that was a bit ungracious, but it was her opinion. But I think she was more concerned about the fact that this idea of the Big Bang, Harry/Draco Big Bang was being applied the wrong way, because it wasn't ever supposed to be about the challenge, like we talked about. It was supposed to be about, you know, this very special Harry/Draco thing, but I mean, I have no problem with people using the word and applying the label to the concept.[1]

In 2018, the fandom calendar tumblr Naruto Events got an ask from an anonymous user asking what a big bang is and responded:

Hi anon!! Thank you for sharing your doubts!


First of all, people tend to use the term to describe a lot of things.

But, the gist of a big bang event is that it is any event that results in the release of a flood, or explosion of content for a particular fandom.

There are various ways to go about organizing a big bang, so this is where fans can get a smite confused. Completely understandable! Here is our short guide:

Open Big Bang - centered around a theme (either character or ship), everyone is allowed to participate. Generally hands-off, there is no moderation of the content, so long as it is posted in a particular time frame and follows rules it’s generally okay. A ship week would be the most prominent example of an open bang; there is also a HashiMada Big Bang coming up soon.

Closed Big Bang - may or may not be centered around a theme (usually a ship), only people that apply to an event within a limited time frame are allowed to participate. Traditionally, writers will make a story and then artists are assigned to draw something for that story.

Closed Reverse Big Bang - may or may not be centered around a theme (usually a ship), only people that apply to an event within a limited time frame are allowed to participate.

The key difference between this and the regular big bang is that the order of content is reversed - here, the artists come up with a drawing concept, then create it alongside writers making a story from said concept. The KakuHida RBB is the only Naruto RBB that we are aware of.

And that’s it! Now you know how to big bang!

If you have any more questions, feel free to let us know! ✨😄[3]

Story Length

The minimum word count for the original 2005 Big Bang, Baby was 50,000 words. In the early years of Big Bangs, many had similar or even longer minimum word count requirements.

In recent years many challenges have cut word length minimums and new challenges have begun with minimums as low as 10,000 words. (See Polyamory Big Bang and Alternate Universe Big Bang as examples of fests with shorter minimums.) The result is a shift in the definition of Big Bang away from novel or near novel-length fiction to fests that include longish short stories. In some cases, this is done simply to ensure lots of signups and that a reasonable percentage of the writers who sign up can complete their story on time.

The definition for what is a long story suitable for a Big Bang, and the length that many writers are willing to commit to, varies by fandom.

The Smallville Big Bang in 2006, with a 50,000 word minimum had only 7 finished stories, while the Stargate Atlantis Big Bangs have always had 40,000 word minimums and have produced hundreds of works.

Some 2012 comments by Aja on the original challenge's wordcount requirements:

Other Big Bangs were always shorter, or tended to be shorter, and other Big Bangs were in fandoms that were in their heyday. The one that comes to mind is Merlin. Like, Merlin actually is like one of the only ones that had the fifty thousand word limit. Or maybe they were above thirty thousand, but they had like they had a really high world limit compared to some of the ones that run now, and they got hundreds and hundreds of fics. [snipped] Yeah, [the word count] almost immediately started going down.


It was always supposed to be 50,000 words, no limits—I mean, no—no exceptions. We actually have kicked a couple—we kicked a couple people out of our challenge because they didn't meet the word requirement. And now we're just like, Enh. (laughs) Even if they got—. We had one guy get—he had like, I don't know—he was like two-thirds of the way done, but it was like the day of, and we thought he had no chance finishing, so we just ditched him. He's very angry, he's still very angry with us. But that was just how—. I mean as mods, we were trying to be like very very strict about the word limit so that the artists wouldn't feel like they had been let down.[1]

The term Mini Bang is often used to refer to a Big Bang with a lower wordcount requirement - typically between 3,000 and 10,000 words. There is also "Mega Bang" which is used to refer to Big Bangs with a high wordcount requirement of 50,000, 75,000 or even 100,000 words. In 2016 the first Mega Bang reportedly originated in Supernatural fandom with the Supernatural Mega Bang, on Tumblr which had a minimum wordcount of 100,000.[4]

But prior to that date, on May 1, 2011, was created by race-the-ace and welfycat the Supernova[5] a multifandom and original super Big Bang where the minimum word count limit is 100k. Most likely he can be considered a precursor to Mega Bangs.

Some Big Bang challenges will have multiple tiers that participants can enter at different wordcount levels. Artists are often expected to create more art for the higher tiers.

Hosting and Accessibility

Many Big Bangs provide websites or archive space to host the stories and art all in one place, but some leave the hosting up to the participants.

For fandoms centered on journalling sites, a choice has to be made between hosting offsite or keeping the fest on the journalling site itself. The size of the stories in a Big Bang ensures they will require multiple Livejournal posts. Many fests require writers to submit a Master Post to the community and have their actual story hosted elsewhere. Some fests, such as the very large Supernatural J2 Big Bang have been produced almost exclusively on LiveJournal sites, with most of the stories posted on personal journals in multiple parts.[note 1]

Having stories only exist in multiple journal posts, sometimes as many as a dozen or more, creates problems for people who want to read offline, on an e-reader or use technology like screen readers to access the work. Some authors provide single file formats for download or host their stories at archives that allow for single page viewing. Other fans will create PDF or ebook formats for stories on their own time and make them available.

Archive Of Our Own Collections

The fanworks archive Archive Of Our Own (AO3) has a "collections" feature[6] that, among other things, can be used to submit works created for a particular challenge - including Big Bangs. Big Bang participants can therefore use AO3 to host their fanworks and submit them to the collection. The AO3 hosting system automatically makes fanworks accessible to screen readers and offline downloads in various formats.

The earliest Big Bang collection created on AO3 appears to be Paper Legends Big Bang, a Merlin Big Bang. The AO3 collection was created in August 2011.[7]

List of Big Bangs

See List of Big Bangs and List of Reverse Bangs.

External links


  1. ^ In 2011, Morgan Dawn and Amothea set up the Supernatural and J2 Big Bang Challenge master collection on AO3, which although not officially promoted by the challenge moderators, allowed writers to voluntarily add their SPN J2 Big Bang stories to the collections and readers to more easily find them on the archive. Having this collection available may have encouraged more writers to crosspost their SPN J2 Big Bang stories to the AO3.


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