The World of Fanfics (A Guide for Beginners)

Have you ever felt an emptiness after finishing a book and the need to continue reading about that world, or have you been dissatisfied with the end of a story and would like to read another? Often times the last page of the book is the most bitter-sweet moment of the entire reading experience. Well, the solution to your problems exists and is found through the world of fanfics. A world full of nerds like you and me who play with the narrative of our beloved books, TV shows, and films.

Fanfiction or Fanfic, call them whatever you want but both terms refer to a story written by a fan about a book, manga, TV series, etc. These may or may not respect the original story, may include only some or all characters. Everything is at the author’s mercy. It is a way to quench your literary thirst for that universe quickly and immediately. Besides, fanfictions are usually very short in length, compared to many books (although there are exceptions). It’s also interesting that many people play with certain factors such as putting the characters you love so much in circumstances other than the original story or with couples who are not official. There are also others that examine characters (and romances) that are left out by the author or that are not seen in depth or even mentioned, which is always interesting to read.

Keep in mind that as these stories are mostly written by amateurs in their spare time, some of the stories can take a while to update. One final aspect to consider is that there are many fanfics that are not of the best quality, but that also happens with books so it is a thing to have a good eye. With respect to this, my advice is to read the first page, chapter or paragraph and see if it suits your standards and tastes and based on that you decide if you continue or not.

Now, when you begin to read you may find words that you do not understand (this usually happens in the description), and is that this world is so popular that it has its own jargon but below I will leave you a glossary of what is important to understand.

The Basics

Canon = Refers to the original work. Sometimes it also alludes to the fact that the story follows the original plot or its partners.

One-Shot = Short stories of a single chapter, tend to be all inclusive

Drabble = Tend to be mini stories such as a paragraph or a little more and usually describe a scene. The rule of thumb is that they should have 100 words but can be as many as 500.

Crossover = Stories that mix more than one universe (fandom) so the characters mix. Example a HARRY POTTER crossover story with SHADOW HUNTERS, would mean that we would have characters from both worlds. It can be developed in one of the environments of the book or another alternative.

Songfic = (although you don’t see many anymore) are stories based on songs, that is, a song is the inspiration to tell that story. In general, the lyrics are indicated so you get the feeling of having a kind of soundtrack to the plot.

Spamfic = It’s a short fic, usually meaningless.

Crackfic (CF) = Specific situations are taken from a book as a parody.

Alternating/Alternative Universe (AU) = Stories where the original characters are taken but placed in a different context. It usually keeps the characters as they are known in terms of character but changes the story.

Character-related terms

Ship/Shipping = Derived from the word relationship, alludes to a relationship that fans want to happen. For example, the fans of the couple Draco and Hermione, usually put ‘ship DRAMIONE’.

One True Pairing (OTP) = Used to refer to those couples who are meant to be a couple, i.e. the fan’s favorite couples. (yes, I’m aware that the whole definition sounds a bit redundant.) Ex: Ron/Hermione, Edward/Bella, etc.

Out of Character (OOC) = Alludes to when the author changes the personality of the main character in a radical way. This tends to happen in order to make the plot more bearable.

Mary Sue = Some fanfics fall into the category of Mary Sue fantasies, where a new character (representing the author) breaks into the story and attracts the attention of the other characters. This one is usually perfect.

Character Relationships

Slash/Femslash = I’ve never seen this term where I read fanfics but they serve to indicate that the relationship being narrated is of two characters of the same sex, male or female, respectively. There are other places where within the description the couple is indicated in a direct way. Ex: ”Magnus/Alec” or “MagusxAlec”.

Lime = Within the story, situations of a certain sexual tension and little explicit friction are related.

Lemon = Explicit sexual situations are related.

Types of Classification

(based on ranking)

Fiction Rated: K = Means that the content is suitable for all ages so it should not include violence, adult issues or vulgarities.

Fiction Rated: K+ = Content is for 9+ years. It may include some violence, but nothing serious. May include some foul language, but not adult topics.

Fiction Rated: T = Content is not suitable for children but for teens (13 years and older.) It contains some violence, vulgar language and/or adult content (all in a small dose.) To give you a sense of what that might look like, most of the stories on this One Piece Fanfiction page fall under the T category.

Fiction Rated: M = Contains content suitable for mature teenagers and seniors, in other words from 16 onwards. It can include everything mentioned in the above classifications on a larger scale. Stories here tend to be more M

Fiction Rated: MA = Adult Content. This classification is given when explicit sexual or violent content is presented.

Obviously, no one is verifying that one is of the age indicated by the classification but this is indicated so that people are aware of what they can find and don’t stumble upon something they don’t want to see.

After all this, you may be wondering where you can read some of these fics. Well, it depends on what one is looking for but sites that gather a great variety of fanfictions of different fandoms. You can find a pretty good list on this Medium blog.

They’re probably the most popular. Now, in the forums, there is also usually space to write these stories but these are more personalized so if that is your case, I recommend you Google “fanfic ________ (insert title of the book you want)” and you will surely find what you are looking for.

If you’re still not completely convinced, I’ll leave you this little piece of information. There are writers whose literary successes began as fanfictions. Many writers take fanfiction writing incredibly seriously and even go out if their way to use fancy book writing software to help improve their skills. Oh, yes… because in this community there is room for everyone. Perhaps one of the best-known fanfics is 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James. As many of you know, it was originally a fiction based on the Twilight characters called “Master of the Universe.

Another Twilight Fanfic, but not as popular as the previous one is Cristina Lauren’s Beautiful Bastard saga, and although this saga did not cause the commotion that 50 Shades of Grey caused, it was still a big success. The truth is that I’ve never read it, but I’ve heard that it’s better than the E.L. James saga, which wouldn’t surprise me. For a writer, this path worked wonders as she didn’t have to worry about typical book problems like standard book sizing or anything like that. She focused on the content and after it took off, the publisher took care of it for her.

Another writer who even in the world of fanfiction was very popular and her fame was transferred to her work is Cassandra Claire. Her popular book Shadow Hunters originated from a Harry Potter fanfiction whose main character was Draco Malfoy. This trilogy called “the Draco trilogy” composed by Draco Dormiens, Draco Sinister, and Draco Veritas was published in 2000 on the site. However, during its time of publication, there were allegations of plagiarism of dialogues and textual passages taken from other books and series so that finally the author was banned from the site. Sometime later and after many arrangements, her most famous book was born.

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