Once Upon a Fic

Once Upon a Fic exchange is an fairy-tale exchange opening that first opened in 2015.

Its focus will be fairy-tales, tall tales, rhymes, fables, and myths that are available publicly.

Please see Once Upon@DW for updates.

(Closed, Moderated)

About Once Upon a Fic (onceuponafic)

Active since:



Once Upon a Fic Exchange is a gift exchange focused on fairy-tales, tall tales, epics, rhymes, fables, myths, and legends!

Love fairy-tale re-tellings? Love asking 'so what happened next?' Or 'what happened first?' Look no further, because this is the exchange for you.



Table of Contents:

  1. Welcome
  2. Schedule
  3. How it works
  4. General questions
  5. Nominations


Welcome to Once Upon a Fic Exchange!


This fic exchange is for:

  • Fairy tales
  • Myths
  • Mythological creatures
  • Legends
  • Rhymes
  • Fables
  • Tall Tales
  • Ballads
  • Aaand Epics

The stories and sources must be legally available online. An adaptation that is under copyright restrictions, like a Disney movie, cannot be nominated.

Time to dig up your favourite fairy-tales to share!


Who's in charge?

Mod: Benedict/Crantz
Co-Mod: Morbane!

Contact us at: onceupon@fandom.exchange


When does this exchange run?

2021 Schedule:

Nomination Period: January 17th, Sunday to January 31st, 11:59 PM Sunday
Sign Ups: February 7th, Sunday to February 17th, 11:59 PM Wednesday
Assignments out: February 19th, Friday
No-Fault Deadline: April 18th, 11:59 PM Sunday
Deadline: May 9th, 11:59 PM Sunday
Archive Goes Live: May 14th, 4:59 PM Friday
Anon Period Ends: May 21st, 4:59 PM Friday

(All times are in the CENTRAL/CST timezone (CDT after DST))



Stage 1: Nominate (if you want to) during the Nomination Period: (Nomination FAQ here)
Stage 2: Sign-ups will open up on ao3 and you will choose which tales you want stories for, and which you want to write.
Stage 3: You will be assigned a recipient.
Stage 3a: You write a story for the recipient and anyone else you want to.
Stage 4: You post your story and everyone is happy.
Stage 5: Everyone reads the stories and is even more happy.


Who can participate?

As long as you have an Ao3 account (if you haven't got one, please contact a mod!), you're in! We have a community on Dreamwidth where you can talk about the exchange, post an exchange letter, and find or offer to be a beta reader, if you want. Sign ups, assignments, and posting will be done through AO3.





How do nominations and matching work?

You will nominate 4 tales (please be specific as to which you mean. Instead of nominating just Cinderella, please nominate Aschenputtel - Brothers Grimm or Cinderella - Charles Perrault, for instance!) and characters from them. See a more detailed nominations guide below.

Then during sign ups, you will request 4-10 tales, and offer to write 4-10 tales, and you will be matched up on one of these to write, and someone will be matched to you in the same way.

It'll be done on an 'Or' basis for characters for ease of matching. This means that even if you asked for Cinderella, Ugly Step-sister 1, Ugly Step-sister 2, and Wicked Stepmother, if another person only offered Ugly Step-sister 2, you can still be matched together and they will probably write you a story about Ugly Step-sister 2.

Another mod has made a visual guide here of this kind of matching.

Letters? Sign up form?

When you sign up at ao3, there'll be a field in each of your requests for additional details. You can include all sorts of things in there - pairings you like, pairings you dislike, plots you like, prompts, things that give you the heebies! Use it as much as you like!

A letter is essentially the same thing, a letter to your author that contains everything you want them to know. Neither are required, but make things a lot easier on your author! Give it a try.

You can find the community letter posts on Dreamwidth under the Letters tag.

We are also giving you an optional details field in the Offers section of your sign-up. This is for notes to the mods only. You can use this to tell us about the kinds of works you would like to create, or, if you have them, your preferences about whom you would like to match to as a recipient or a creator. We will take note of these wishes, but we cannot promise to grant them - first, we need to make sure people have matches based on the tales and characters you all selected. As said, this is optional.


Okay, so I don't like my assignment. Can I get a new one?

If an offer in your sign-up matches a request in your assignment, we're afraid what you get is what you get.

We cannot change your assignment once assignments are out. Please default if you are unable to write your story.

My story has errors! What do I do?

It's okay! You can edit your story well after you've posted it until the collection goes live! We ask that once the collection goes live you make only minor edits and that any story you've uploaded is a version that is good enough for your recipient to see.

The exchange is live, but I never got a story. Where is it?

Tell us immediately that it's missing so we can find out why. It might be because you did not post a story of your own, or posted it late - in that case, you are not guaranteed to get one.


What if I can't do the story I'm assigned?

Please default, if you absolutely cannot write your story. You can default by going to your ao3 profile and going to the assignments page and hitting the default button.

This allows us to assign a Pinch Hitter to your recipient in a timely manner.

However, don't let this discourage you from writing treats for other participants! If your writer posts a story for you, please comment!

Don't be embarrassed. Sometimes a story just doesn't happen, and comments are the lifeblood of writers.

If you have defaulted, and your author defaults, you will not be assigned a new author.

Once Upon a Fic has a default deadline! If you think you need to default, please default by April 19! If after that time you default or you don’t turn a story in, you will be banned from signing up in 2021.

My recipient listed other fandoms I'm into that I didn't sign up for. What if I want to write them?

You can write any fandom your recipient has requested in order to fulfill the assignment.

My recipient is into a lot of fairy-tales that they talk about elsewhere that wasn't in their sign up. Could I write one of those instead?

Not instead - but possibly as well as, if they like crossovers. Your story must include one of the fairy tales that is requested in the form by your recipient, and can contain others if your recipient has said they like that idea.


Does it have to be beta'd?

We'd appreciate it if it was, and we'll even help you find a beta! There'll be a post on the Dreamwidth community where people will offer to beta stories. Or contact the mods directly if you want extra help!


Can I request a crossover?

You can suggest one in your letter, but your writer is not obligated to do that. Optional details are optional.


Can I ask my recip for more details?

Please do not contact your recipient, even anon - contact the mods instead. You can tell us if their letter is still locked or somesuch and we'll see what we can do.


Do I have to write exactly what they asked for?

Optional is optional. You're only required to write one of the fandoms your recipient requested, and one of the characters they requested in it. But if the recipient has included in either their additional details or dear author letter a list of things they do not want, do not write those into the story.


My story isn't 1000 words. Can I still post it?

If this is your assignment, you will be considered as having dropped out. If this is a treat, yes you can. Treats don't have to be 1000 words.


How do I tag my story's fandom/nomination?

First, see if it's already in the archive. If it's not, please make your tag as clear as possible for ease of archiving.

In this instance, simply use the common English name or Ao3 tag (if it exists) of the tale along with any story-specific characters you want.

If your story doesn't have a common name, choose something descriptive (Medusa and Athena (Greek Myth) for example) and go with that. If you're stuck, consult a mod for help.


How secret is this?

You'll be anonymous until author reveals! Check the schedule for when that is. Don't let your recipient find out who you are until then!


I really love these prompts from another person who is NOT my recipient and I think I can fulfil them AND my assignment. Can I do that?

Go for it! It'd be a nice treat for them! ALSO you may end up being able to take them on as a pinch hit, so keep an eye out for that once assignments go out.


I hate my story. What do I do?

Please be kind to your author, they tried their best. We do not condone rude comments to authors.

If you mean the one you wrote, I think that's normal and you should take a few minutes to think about the various ways you're a cool person.



How many nominations do we get?

You get:
4 tale nominations
0-4 character nominations per tale.

  What is eligible?

  • Fairy-tales - examples:
    • Cinderella - Charles Perrault
    • The Moonchild and the Bamboo Cutter | Kaguyahime (Fairytale)
    • The Snake Who Became The King's Son-in-Law (Fairytale)
  • Nursery-rhymes - examples:
    • Little Boy Blue (Nursery Rhyme)
    • Three Little Kittens Have Lost Their Mittens (Nursery Rhyme)
    • Jack Be Nimble (Nursery Rhyme)
  • Tall tales - examples:
    • Paul Bunyan (Tall Tale)
    • Johnny Appleseed (Tall Tale)
  • Legends - examples
    • Perceval, the Story of the Grail - Chrétien de Troyes, or Holy Grail (Parzival - Wolfram von Eschenbach), or other sources, for the legend of the Holy Grail
    • El Dorado (El Carnero of Juan Rodriguez Freyle), for the legend of El Dorado
    • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - Howard Pyle (another source is welcome - we just want you to choose a specific one)
    • Atlantis - Plato
  • Myths - examples:
    • The Labours of Heracles (Herakles - Euripides)
    • Thor's Wedding (Edda - Snorri Sturluson)
    • Isis reassembling Osiris (De Iside et Osiride - Plutarch)
    Because this section is religion focused, the mods will not allow anything that is considered secret or restricted to practitioners only
  • Mythical Creatures - examples:
    • The Caladrius (Aberdeen Bestiary)
    • The Chupacabra (Central Americas Urban Legend)

Please be as specific as you can. 'Cinderella - Charles Perrault' versus 'Perrault's stories', ‘Gawain and the Green Knight’ versus 'Arthurian Mythology.'

If your story doesn't have an AO3 canonical name, choose something descriptive (Medusa and Athena (Greek Myth) for example) and go with that. If you can refer to the source (ie, author, larger titled work) that is very helpful. If you're stuck, consult a mod for help. You may find the names of your nominations changed to more specific versions. Please contact us immediately if we've chosen wrongly.

You may want to nominate an individual story or episode from a very long work. In that case “Descriptive name of story (Longer Title of Work)” may be a good format. Discuss it with us!

The sources should be legally and freely available online. If your fairy-tale comes from a country, language, or culture whose literature isn't well-represented freely online, please contact the mods and we will see what we can do.

Participants! Please be prepared to include links to your preferred version of a tale. There's a huge difference between, say, Perrault's version of Cinderella and the Brothers Grimm. As well, huge works like Ovid's Metamorphoses and 1001 Nights are acceptable to nominate in parts!
There will be links provided for each story nominated!

Links and sources must also be provided for mythological and legendary creatures so that an author and a recipient are working from the same ideas. Appropriate sources might be: a translation of an original text; an article that cites multiple sources; a book about the subject (or possibly just a chapter in such a book). Here are some examples of acceptable sources:

See also

little book graphic by Heatphones

FAQ UPDATED 6 February 2020




-Your story MUST be 1000 words or more. You may include art with your stories; however, this is not a requirement, nor may your submission consist solely of artwork.

-If you are unable to complete your assignment, you can default by hitting the default button on your assignment page, or by emailing the mod at onceupon@fandom.exchange

-Sometimes your recipient will include a list of things they do not want in a story in the optional details or a letter. Optional details in terms of wants are optional, but you must respect your recipient's list of do-not-wants.

-You must submit your story before the deadline, otherwise you will be considered as having defaulted and a pinch hitter will be assigned to your recipient. If you do not submit a story, and do not default ahead of time, you may be banned from future exchanges.

HOWEVER, if you have defaulted but still finish your story, please do submit it anyway (even after defaulting) because all stories are welcome and the more gifts, the better!

-Do not let your recipient find out you are writing for them! This includes contacting them (even anonymously! If you have concerns, please contact a mod), talking about your assignment publicly, or emailing them and telling them you were assigned to write them a story in the Once Upon a Fic Exchange. When the exchange goes lives and everyone gets their stories, your name will be revealed after a short period of time, and you may post the story wherever you wish.

-Your fairy-tale/tall tale/legend of choice must be available legally and publicly online (ie not behind a paywall or torrent, and not under copyright restrictions that mean it cannot be shared freely). If your fairy-tale comes from a country, language, or culture whose literature isn't well-represented freely online, please contact the mods and we will see what we can do to accommodate you. This may involve you posting a retelling of the story yourself for your author to work from.