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Fanfiction Terminolgy
By Moonbeam's Predilections



This list exists to provide a quick, easy explanation of what all those strange fanfiction terms, slang, and acronyms we are always stumbling across actually mean as we work our way through the wonders of fandom. It is a simple glossary of definitions for all the common, anime and fandom-specific story terminology compiled into one easy place to help welcome new readers and writers into the beautiful, universal language of fanfiction. Because, yeah, there's something of a unique vocabulary to our trade that may necessitate a period of orientation... but I promise you, we're a friendly bunch and would love to have you join in! So let this little dictionary get you started, and you'll soon see what all the fun is about. ;)

In that spirit, if you have a term you'd like to see added or a question or concern, please don't hesitate to let me know! This list continues to grow and improve with every contribution from all of you; I honestly couldn't do it without you. So please, keep the suggestions coming!

Updated February 2014



Common Fandom Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

! = The Exclamation Mark or 'Bang' Symbol -- refers to a short form for expressing the presence of a particular trait or defining quality of a character in a story. One which is usually not part of the original canon characterization, or is at least an extreme interpretation of the canon characterization. Most often written in the format of trait first and character's name last, with the symbol in between. (For example: "Smart!Jack" in Stargate: SG-1, indicating that the character of Jack O'Neill is secretly smarter than he pretends to be.) The compact format of [trait]![character's name] manages to quickly and clearly describe to the reader an accurate depiction of the author's choice in characterization before they even read the story. See also: BAMF and/or Limp!

A/A = Action/Adventure -- refers to a genre of stories featuring a plot with a fair amount of physical (as in the "shoot 'em up, blow 'em up, beat 'em up" type and not the "don't come a-knockin' if the bed be a-rockin'" type!) action. Adventure stories tend to be mainly plot-driven in nature, but may also contain mystery or suspense or romance. See also: Casefile, Genre and/or Plot

Adult -- refers to the presence of graphic or explicit sexual content and/or violence; must be 18 years or older to read. See also: Het and/or Slash

Amnesia (-fic) --refers to stories in which a character (or perhaps all of them!) loses their memory, either in whole or in part, for one reason or another. It is an excellent way to explore new dynamics among the characters, also acting as a way to get an outside perspective without introducing an original character. Usually, but not always, the amnesiac will regain their memories before the end of the story. See also: H/C and/or Outside POV

A/N = Author's Notes -- refers to an author's personal notes about the story, writing experience, or whatever else the author wants to talk to their readers about. Usually included before the beginning, or sometimes after the end, of a fic. Author's notes embedded within a story are generally viewed as distracting, pointless, and unwelcome. If additional explanation that cannot be incorporated into context is needed, the use of footnotes is perfectly acceptable and can often enhance a fic tremendously. That said, certain forms of parody such as Badfics and MSTings may use the embedded A/N method deliberately for humour's sake. See also: Badfic and/or MST

Angst -- refers to a genre of stories with prevalent physical or, mainly, emotional torment of characters. Most stories with an angst description contain significant levels of characters feeling emotions such as fear, anxiety, or sadness. Such fics may also be designed to elicit such emotions in the readers. See also: H/C

Anon (-ymous) -- refers to someone, either author or reader, who does not wish their identity to be revealed. Often shortened to Anon. When multiple anonymous users are posting, may be distinguished by using such terms as Same Anon (SA), Different Anon (DA) or New Anon (NA). See also: OP

Anthropomorfic -- refers to stories in which inanimate objects, non-sentient creatures, or abstract concepts are anthropomorphized by giving them thoughts, feelings, and behaviors for fanfic purposes. Often short, humourous stories written from the non-human's perspective. Anthropomorphic fiction may indicate stories about anything other than people, such as a personification of Fandom itself, for example, or the Mac vs PC commercial advertisements. Alternatively, they may feature humanoid characters rewritten as typically non-sentient things but maintaining their personalities. See also: Gijinka

Arc (Myth- or Story-) -- refers to an extensive overarching plot theme that extends throughout a story or series, either as the primary plot thread or (usually) running continuously within the background. May be originated as part of the original canon, especially among dramas, or developed purely in an author's on-going fanwork. See also: Plot

Archive -- refers to a collection of stories by multiple different authors in one easy-to-browse location. Major fandom archives often host thousands of stories of every imaginable variety. Many archives are also multifandom or even themed, such as Crossover archives. Fanfiction.Net is the largest archive ever in existence, and thus the first archive most new readers discover. While admittedly a great starting place for delving into a new fandom, it is by no means the only (or often best!) archive for many varieties of fandoms or genres. More specialised archives can generally be found by a quick Google search of the name of your fandom/pairing/preference with either the word "archive" or "fanfiction" beside it. Also, don't forget AO3! Otherwise known as the Archive Of Our Own, a massive fan-created multifandom archive alternative that is well worth checking out! (It has great downloadable formats of every story for e-readers and tablets, yay!)

AU = Alternate Universe -- refers to a story of which there is a (often major) plot, setting, or character deviation away from established canon. AUs may be anything, but there are some themes that are quite common in a variety of fandoms such as All Human AUs, Animal AUs, Highschool AUs, and/or Modern AUs, for example. Authors may also create and develop their own unique worlds in which to place familiar characters. Sometimes referred to as Alternate Realities, Alternate Timelines or Parallel Realities, but such precise distinctions are not usually necessary. See also: Fusion and/or Worldbuilding

Badfic -- refers to stories written in a deliberately horrible manner, as a special type of Parody story (one usually only done as a Challenge). Badfics tend to use every cliche in the book, ridiculous (completely out-of-character) sweeping (and often purple-prosy) descriptions and dialogue, and mainly... the most awful grammar and spelling one can stand! Such stories can be terribly funny (in the way watching a train wreck is interesting) or excruciatingly nauseating. It takes a master to pull it off without encouraging the Pepto-Bismol stockprices, so is not recommended for beginners. See also: Challenge and/or Parody

Backstory -- refers to a story about, or containing scenes of, the past history of a character as set well before the canon's timeline. The character's prior background may be previously established in canon and just further elaborated in the fic, or the backstory may be an entirely original creation of the author. As backstory is ostensibly part of the character's unseen history, it may be Jossed by canon at any time or possibly even retconned in at a later date. See also: Jossed and/or Retcon

BAMF = Bad Ass Mother Fucker -- refers to a character who is particularly awesome and impressive, often expressing this awesome power of awesometude by being extremely clever, effective, and hard to defeat. BAMFs may be male or female, stereotypically heroic or unexpectedly amazing, consistently so or just during brief moments. (Note that "bamf!" is also the sound that X-Men character Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler makes when teleporting, but that this version of the word is not related to the meaning of the acronym -- except in that Nightcrawler is himself a fairly BAMFy character anyway.)

Bestiality -- refers to the presence of a sexual relationship between humans and animals. Most bestiality stories actually involve a human physically transformed into an animal via some spell or mysticism, but who still retains their human thoughts and emotions and are thus fully capable of giving informed consent. May be mild to extreme, implied or graphic. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: Kink, Squick, and/or Warning

Beta (-'d, -read, or -reader) -- refers to having someone knowledgeable in writing etiquette edit a story prior to posting. While spell-checking a story can catch most simple mistakes, certain grammar faux-pas will be missed. A beta-reader can catch not only the technical errors, but is often useful as a sounding board for improving the story itself. Betas can fill in plotholes, keep your characterizations on target, and help guide an author to new creative heights. Authors are fantastic and always appreciated, but betas make authors better and deserve some appreciation of their own.

BDSM (or B/D, D/s, S&M) = Bondage Domination Sadism Masochism -- refers to the presence of bondage, dominance/submission, and/or sado-masochism for sexual or violence purposes. Not all aspects of the term BDSM may be included within a single fic, so many authors distinguish which specific elements are included. For example, a fic may include a consensual sex scene of dominance/submission but no sadism or masochism, thus it can legitimately not be labelled BDSM. (Although in such a case, it would be recommended that the author still warns for D/s separately, just in case.) May be mild (PG-13) to extreme (NC-17). This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: Bondage

Big Bang -- refers to a special kind of writing ficathon event in which authors sign-up to write long stories or novels by a certain date and are paired up with fanartists who make accompanying artwork for their stories. Length requirements for Big Bang challenges can range anywhere from a minimum of 10,000 words up to 50,000 word novels, and often produce epics well past those minimums. (A "Reverse Big Bang" is the same thing just switched around, with authors creating novels based upon submitted fanart.) Big Bangs may be fandom-specific, pairing-specific, genre-specific, or open to all possibilities. They also usually result in a large explosion of wonderful long fics all being posted simultaneously, hence the appropriateness of the term 'Big Bang'. See also: Challenge, Ficathon and/or Prompt

BNF = Big Name Fan -- refers to a fan (usually an author or other prominent contributor to the fandom) who has become so well known within the fandom that they have gained power over it. Unfortunately, most BNFs tend to go inevitably mad with that power, and insanity and wank are not uncommon surrounding them. It is indeed possible for some BNFs to be quite nice and laid-back, even using their power for the greater good, but it is dishearteningly rare. See also: Wank

Bondage -- refers to the presence of physical restraint used as sexual stimulus for a character in a consensual sex scene. Restraints may be deliberate such as rope or handcuffs, or improvised such as articles of clothing or from surrounding environment. May be mild (PG-13) to extreme (NC-17). This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: BDSM

Bonding -- refers to stories in which two (or more) characters are connected psychically or emotionally, possibly even telepathically, in an often predestined and permanent bond such as soulmates. Often contains intense emotional or physical scenes of the bonding process itself. Can be gen, het, or slash, although even the most gen of stories often read as UST when the bonding is described. See also: Gen, Het, Slash and/or UST

Canon -- refers to elements established by the original source material (TV show, book, movie, etc...) itself for either plot, setting, or character developments. The official details, as it were. See also: Fanon and Word of God

Casefile -- refers to a certain type of plot element in a mystery or action storyline which involves the procedural investigation of a case. Most frequently used in fact-based fandoms, such as crime or medical shows. See also: A/A and/or Plot

Challenge -- refers to story ideas issued to potential authors by other fans; often involve following specific guidelines or using suggested elements. Example: In an ABC challenge, each sentence must begin with the next letter of the alphabet until the the entire alphabet has been used. See also: Ficathon and/or Prompt

Character Death -- refers to stories in which a major or minor canon character dies. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. (If possible, that is. Admittedly, sometimes the nature of deathfics are best kept secret, so that nothing detracts from the power of the emotional impact upon revelation.) Also called Deathfics. See also: Death

Cliché -- refers to elements within a story plot, setting, or characterization that are so common and overused as to become trite and stereotypical. Clichés can be annoying when encountered too often, but the important thing to remember is that they became clichés for a reason -- people like 'em! A new twist on an old cliché is almost always a guaranteed success. Some examples of classic clichés include characters changing gender or species, characters changed into animals or children, sudden superpowers, apocalyptic survival, and many other familiar scenarios from the human collective unconscious or your basic bodice-ripper romance novel. See also: AU, Crack, Genderswap, Kink, Plot, Sex Pollen, Trope and/or Wingfic

Comment (-fic) -- refers to a quick form of feedback written on the spot into an online dialogue box at the end of a story or chapter or other post. A comment-fic is a short story that is written for another person within that small text field, usually as a gift. See also: Feedback and/or LoC

Con = Short form of "Convention" -- refers to real-life gatherings of fans, sometimes officially endorsed (with official guests!), sometimes not, but gathering together to meet and exchange over a period of several days. Cons may be small (no more than 25 people) or large (no less than 25,000 people); dedicated to one specific fandom or welcoming them all; gen, slash, or bi-genre in nature; and/or anything else the hosts can think of. For example, Comic Con is an especially popular con for both fans and official guests (actors, writers, artists, other Powers-That-Be, etc...) held annually in San Diego, California, USA.

Concrit = Constructive Criticism -- refers to a specific type of feedback in which polite, helpful suggestions or edits are offered to improve the quality of a story. Concrit is not a flame, as even though it may contain negative comments as well as positive, the reviewer is generally only interested in providing friendly advice and well-reasoned arguments rather than 'attacking' the author or their work. Concrit can be a very rewarding experience for authors to receive, as it is an excellent way to learn and improve their writing skills, but unfortunately not all authors are ready to accept or appreciate concrit, so reviewers must be careful about what they say and to whom. See also: Beta, Feedback and/or Flame

Continuity -- refers to the consistency within elements of a canon or fanfic's plot, characterization, settings, and other small details that add verisimilitude to the story. Failures or gaps in the continuity can be quite noticeable and may detract from the overall enjoyment of the work. Such gaps also make excellent fodder for authors looking to fill them in, such as with backstory or missing scene fics. Established continuity can also be changed deliberately (or accidentally!) by the original canon's creators in a move known as "retconning". See also: Backstory, Missing Scene, Plot, and/or Retcon

Corporal Punishment -- refers to the presence of mild to extreme physical punishment as a child-rearing practice, whether implied or described. This can frequently be a squick for many people (myself included!), so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: Domestic Discipline

Cosplay = Costume Play -- refers to a type of performance art in which fans dress up as characters, often in meticulously hand-made costumes. They may also choose to interact as the characters would to enhance the experience, for both themselves and spectators. Cosplayers can often be seen at conventions, however the phenomenon is an established subculture all its own as well.

Crack (-fic) -- refers to stories in which completely ridiculous, unbelievable or insane things occur, often without reasonable explanation but great enjoyment. Are generally written shamelessly and with no excuse beyond a desire to have fun. Often are also PWPs, though not always NC17. Are almost always humourous, although it is possible to write them seriously. Is so referred not only because such crackfics often seem as if they could only be conceived by an author riding a high, but also because they can be hilariously addictive to readers as well. See also: Humour and/or PWP

Crossover (or X-over) -- refers to stories in which the characters, premises, or settings of more than one fandom coincide. Crossovers may consist of a complete blending of universes or only a slight, passing connection. Knowledge of both (or multiple) fandoms is not always necessary, but generally helpful to fully understanding the story. See also: AU and/or Fusion

Crosspost (-ed or -ing) -- refers to stories that have been posted across multiple different mailing lists, communities, or archives at around the same time. Done to ensure maximum distribution of the story to as many readers as possible, but warned for due to the high chance of repeated exposure among readers who also frequent most or all of those various platforms.

Curtain-fic -- refers to stories in which characters who are deeply established in their relationship engage in casual domestic activities such as cooking, laundry, shopping, or the trope for which it is named, picking out curtains together. See also: Fluff

Dark (-fic or -Story) -- refers to stories in which either the content or, usually, the characters themselves are written "darker" than their canon counterparts, although not necessarily outside the bounds of canon characterization. Can range from morally ambiguous to outright evil, possibly even psychopathic/sociopathic. Stories often carry higher ratings due to disturbing subject matter.

DD = Domestic Discipline -- refers to the presence of character interaction similar to that of a parent and child, with a defined power imbalance, but in the context of a sexual relationship between two adults. Are often part of BDSM verses and frequently includes scenes of corporal punishment, such as spanking used as both discipline for wrong behavior and sexual stimulus. This can frequently be a squick for many people (myself included!), so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: BDSM and/or Corporal Punishment

Death (-fic or -Story) -- refers to stories in which a major or minor canon character dies. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. (If possible, that is. Admittedly, sometimes the nature of deathfics are best kept secret, so that nothing detracts from the power of the emotional impact upon revelation.) See also: Character Death

Disclaimer -- refers to the legal statement of ownership, or non-ownership, authors make regarding the use of canon characters, settings, premises, etc... Technically, disclaimers do not provide any legal protection against charges of copyright infringement, so it is not truly necessary to include them. However, they are considered a courtesy that is strongly encouraged, in that they do provide a valid defense against charges of plagiarism. The best disclaimers actually mention who the legal copyright holders are, which may mean the creator and/or production network. Most fanworks are generally considered to be transformative and therefore fall under the "Fair Use" clause of copyright law, and disclaimers help reinforce that distinction. See also: Plagiarism and/or TPTB

Drabble -- refers to stories of exactly 100 words in length.
Moonbeam's Note: There is some debate among fans as to the exact definition of a drabble. The 100-word limit is the most common (and, quite frankly, makes the most sense) but acceptable word limits can range anywhere from 50 to 500 words.

Dub-Con = Dubious-Consent -- refers to the presence of borderline non-consensual sexual contact within a story, whether implied or described. May indicate relationships in which characters must agree to engage in sexual contact for outside reasons, are initially hesitant or remain uncomfortable throughout, or in which one or more characters are willing but unable to give complete consent because they are mentally or physically compromised such as being drunk/drugged, ensorcelled, amnesiac, or otherwise not in their right minds. It is a grey area between fully reciprocal intercourse and non-con, but in fandom is clearly defined from rape. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: Fuck or Die, Non-Con and/or Rape

Ensemble -- refers to stories featuring the full or majority of the cast of characters within the fandom. There may or may not be pairings within the cast, but all major (and sometimes minor) characters will feature within the story. Among fandoms with actual teams of characters who always appear together, these stories may also be referred to as "team-fics" (for the gen stories) or OT#ofcharacters (for the Het, Slash, or Mixed relationship stories). Ensemble fics are the opposite of character-centric fics which focus mainly on a single character throughout the whole of the story, whereby the name of the character listed indicates who is featured by the story. See also: OTP

Epistolary -- refers to stories written not just through prose, but containing documents, emails, letters, text-messages, news articles or other forms of literary media to help tell the story. May be solely written in document-form (such as document-fics, chatfics, etc...) or use snippets of documents to enrich and enhance the regular prose.

ER = Established Relationship -- refers to stories featuring characters already involved in an established romantic or sexual relationship prior to the beginning of the story. The opposite of a first time fic. See also: First Time

ETA = Editing Turn Around -- refers to a note to indicate the author (or commenter) has added to or corrected something in their writing after it was already posted and made public. Can be as little as fixing a missed spelling error, or a complete change of text.

f/f = Female/Female -- refers to a homosexual relationship involving two women. Sometimes referred to as "Femslash" or "Femmeslash" to differentiate it from the far more common male/male form of Slash. Also known as "Yuri", but predominantly only in manga/anime fandoms. See also: Slash and/or Yuri

Fanart -- refers to original illustrations and/or photo manipulations featuring fandom-related characters, settings, premises, etc... based on the original source material, but created by a fan. It is a form of transformative work designed as an expression of appreciation and exploration of the canon material. No profit is made from its production or distribution; no harm is meant. See also: Fanfic, Fanvid, Fanwork, and/or Manip

Fandom -- refers to the fan-based community dedicated to a particular TV show or other cult-inducing medium, including movies, books, music, comics, and any other canon source material. The term "fandom" can be used to represent either the fans and the multitude of ways in which they follow and enjoy the original source material, or as a generic way of referring to the original source material that supports a fan-based community itself. Fandom includes both the internet presence and real-life existence, and is expressed in many ways including websites, mailing lists, archives, fanart, fanfic, Cons, etc...

Fanfic (-tion) -- refers to derivative creative stories featuring the characters, settings, premises, etc... based on the original source material, but written by a fan. It is a form of transformative work designed as an expression of appreciation and exploration of the canon material. No profit is made from its production or distribution; no harm is meant. See also: Fanart, Fanmix, Fanvid and/or Fanwork

Fanmix -- refers to a themed musical selection of songs mixed together into an "album" format to be downloaded by readers or listeners, often with accompanying CD cover art. May be produced as a project into and of itself, or as an accessory to a fanfic story or other transformative work. See also: Fanart, Fanfic, Fanvid and/or Fanwork

Fanon -- refers to common plot or character elements that were not established by the original source material, but are generally accepted to be true by the fans anyway. These are the un-official details, folks. Fanon concepts have often become so prevalent in the fandom that their origins (which fan came up with the idea first) are no longer remembered. Example: In The Sentinel fandom, the minor canon character of Detective Rafe was never given a first name. Fanon, however, assigned him the name of Brian and it stuck. See also: Canon and/or Headcanon

Fan Service -- refers to scenes or moments within the original canon source material that are deliberate nods to the fans, such as in-jokes or bonus scenes that most fans can immediately recognize as being targeted to them rather than just the general viewer audience. Fan service indicates that the canon's creators and/or actors are aware of and appreciate their fans' dedication and they wish to acknowledge it in some form by catering to their fans' preferences. Oftentimes, this desire to please the fans is expressed in gratuitous scenes of nudity ("eye candy") or playing up of the subtext between characters' relationships even though it is irrelevant to the plot. Is usually excellent fun for both TPTB and the fans, but can become distracting if overused. See also: TPTB

Fanvid -- refers to music videos and montages created by a fan using a combination of clips from original source material set to a song or tune. It is a form of transformative work designed as an expression of appreciation and exploration of the canon material. No profit is made from its production or distribution; no harm is meant. See also: Fanart, Fanfic, 'Fanmix and/or Fanwork

Fanwork -- refers to any form of transformative work designed as an expression of appreciation and exploration of the canon material, or any other aspect of the fandom. Fanworks may consist of fanfiction, fanart, fanmixes, podfics, fanvids, cosplays, etc... either about the canon or based on another's fanwork relating to the canon. No profit is made from its production or distribution; no harm is meant. See also: Cosplay, Fanart, Fanfic, Fanmix, Fanvid and Podfic

Feedback -- refers to an author's idea of a 'reward' for their efforts. *g* Okay, seriously, feedback acts as a form of extrinsic reinforcement (if you want the actual psychological classification), which basically means that it generates good feelings in the author. Those good feelings reinforce the author's desire to write, so that they can get more good feelings and start the cycle all over again. However, I should point out that this is not and should not be the main reason authors write. They should write for the intrinsic reinforcement, the sense of good feelings that is inspired within themselves. Internal sources of reinforcement like a sense of accomplishment, pride in their work, joy in playing with the characters, or the pleasure of sharing should be the reason authors write and post stories. Otherwise, if they fail to get external sources of reinforcement, they may grow dissatisfied with writing and quit. Readers who enjoy a story are encouraged to let the author know, either by private email or a public review. Feedback can be anything from a short "I love your story!" to lengthy dissections of what works and what doesn't. Constructive criticism is sometimes appreciated, depending on the author, but flames are not. Ever! (So don't do it, m'kay?) Fanfiction authors don't get paid to write, they do it for the fun of it. Getting feedback for your work, knowing people out there are reading and enjoying what you write--it's all the reward an author needs. Unfortunately, the statistics on readers giving feedback are very low: something like only 1 out of 200 stories, according to one long forgotten estimate, ever receive feedback. Which means that every letter of comment is special and greatly appreciated. See also: Concrit, Flame, LoC, and/or R&R

Ficathon -- refers to a multi-participant challenge and writing fest in which authors are invited to submit story ideas in return for writing another author's prompt. Often, but not always, participation is anonymous until a later date. Ficathons often run based on a particular theme, but can be anything. Stories are usually beta'd prior to posting. See also: Big Bang, Challenge and/or Prompt

Filk -- refers to stories written along the lines of a song; usually a parody of either the fandom or of the song itself. See also: Songfic

First Time -- refers to stories in which the characters become romantically or sexually involved for the 'first time' during the course of the story. As opposed to having an 'Established Relationship' prior to the story's timeline. See also: ER

Fix-It -- refers to a specific type of alternate universe story in which the author attempts to correct or rewrite something that they feel the original canon should not have done or failed to do properly. Often, such fics will follow the canon right up to the certain critical point, but then go off in whatever other direction the author decides would be best to prevent or ameliorate whatever error they believe the canon produced. Fix-its are often written in response to unwanted plot points within the canon, such as a beloved character's sudden death, or to cover over obvious plot holes that the canon missed. Fans who engage in fix-its may be known as "Denialists" because they refuse to accept canon went the way it did when a single different choice at the critical point could have changed everything. See also: AU

Flame -- refers to inflammatory (rude, cruel, mean, hateful, unjust) remarks made about an author or their work. Not all criticism is automatically a flame, but it can be subjective to the author's sensitivity, so care should be taken to distinguish constructive criticism if sending feedback. Flaming is widely considered very bad netiquette, not just in the world of fandom, and will often get you banned from communities if you insist on doing it. See also: Concrit, Feedback and/or Troll

Flashfic -- refers to the stories of a kind of challenge community in which stories are written quickly in response to a daily or weekly prompt. The fics are usually short, jotted down "in a flash" as inspiration from the prompt hits. However, as some flashfic communities leave prompts up for a week or more, it is possible for a particularly-inspired author to produce longer, detailed fics in the same short time-frame. See also: Challenge and/or Prompt

Fluff -- refers to stories in which there is no angst or, often, any real plot either. Fluff fics tend to be short and sweet, with little to no depth, but often quite comforting to read. May also indicate scenes of pleasant, happy non-action (like domesticity) in a larger, more complex work. See also: Schmoop and WAFF

Fuck or Die -- refers to a situation in which characters must have sex or face dire consquences, possibly even death. While the characters will often be reluctant to participate and are often coerced into doing so by some outside factor, most of them do consent willingly to the act so such fics rarely contain rape. Post-sex awkwardness and angst are common elements, but stories may be humourous or cracky as well. Also known as "Sex or Death" fics, although the consequences of failure to have sex do not necessarily have to mean anyone's actual death. Includes classic sci-fi "Aliens Made Them Do It" scenarios. See also: Dub-Con

Fusion -- refers to a special brand of AU Crossover in which the characters of one fandom are written into the reality of another, as it is an easy way of writing an interesting alternate universe without worldbuilding a new reality from scratch. Often, the canon characters of that reality do not make an appearance in the story and therefore fusions may not necessarily count as true crossovers. See also: AU, Crossover and/or Worldbuilding

Future-fic -- refers to stories in which the characters are written at a time (usually far) into their own future. Stories are by necessity pure speculation and can be easily Jossed by later canon. Also known as "Post-Canon". See also: AU, Jossed and/or Post-Canon

Gen -- refers to a category of stories in which there is no romance or sex. Although it may include background or implied pairings, any relationships are incidental to the story itself. May, however, contain mild to extreme violence and/or foul language, so could still have high ratings.

Genderswap (-bender or -flip) -- refers to stories in which a character of one gender undergoes some kind of sex change at some point throughout or before the fic. Are usually sudden and unexpected, caused by magic or alien technology. Can be temporary or permanent and irreversible. Can be serious or, often, quite humourous. May also indicate stories in which a character who is canonically one gender is and always has been the opposite gender within the fic, such as a canon male character being rewritten as a female in 'always-a-girl' fics. See also: AU, Crack, and/or Rule 63

Genre -- refers to whatever type of literary theme that a story can be sorted as. Includes such common categories as drama, humour, romance, mystery, suspense, adventure, horror, fantasy, science fiction, hurt/comfort, angst, and more.

Grimdark -- refers to stories with especially horrible violent and depressing settings or situations that are rarely if ever relieved by lighter, happier moments. May include post-apocalyptic or dystopian universes. An extreme form of Dark fic. See also: Dark

Haitus -- refers to a break of weeks or months between episodes of a television show, usually between seasons/series or over holidays. Authors may also take hiatuses from writing to prevent or recover from burning out. A hiatus does not mean the show or story is cancelled or abandoned, merely temporarily postponed.

H/C = Hurt/Comfort -- refers to the presence of emotional or physical angst of one character followed by emotional or physical comfort by another. A proper H/C story contains enough 'comfort' to equal or out-weigh the amount of 'hurt' experienced; if not, then the story qualifies as angst more so than H/C, if not full whump. See also: Angst and/or Whump

Headcanon (or Personal Canon) -- refers to the personal beliefs or interpretations about canon that an author or reader makes to explain or account for some aspect of the actual canon. The headcanon itself, while not officially supported by the canon, tends also not to be actually disproven or refuted by the canon and will therefore seem plausible in the mind of the fan who imagines it. Headcanons are as many and varied as the fans themselves, may be about the past, present, or future of the character or plot, and can be shared by others if particularly enticing or believable. In fact, if a headcanon is so popular that it gets adopted by many members of a fandom, it may eventually become accepted as fanon for that fandom. See also: Canon and/or Fanon

Heat Cycle -- refers to a phenomenon in which a character undergoes an estrus-like mating cycle in which they experience heightened sexual drive and the strong desire to mate or reproduce offspring. This is a common kink in certain tropes such as Omega-verse fics or among more animalistic characters. Heat cycles may include dub-con situations if the heat becomes overwhelming, self-lubrication to ease resulting penetration, and increased fertility (even in males, which may lead to Mpreg). See also: Kink, Mpreg and Omega

Het (-/Adult) -- refers to the presence of a heterosexual relationship featuring at least one canon character. See also: m/f

Humour -- refers to a genre of funny and amusing stories with strong elements of humour throughout. The humour may be the point of the story or just an entertaining by-product of the storytelling itself. See also: Crack and/or Genre

Incest -- refers to the presence of a romantic or sexual relationship between related members of a family. Incest can be of an abusive nature or completely consensual and genuinely loving. Parent/child and sibling (especially among twins, ie: 'twincest') relationships are the most common. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings.

Jossed -- refers to stories or ideas, originally intended to be canonical, which have become AU only after-the-fact because the canon material continued on and went down a different path than the fanfiction author expected. Derived from show writer/creator Joss Whedon, who was particularly adept at twisting the canon in sudden and unanticipated ways. Originated in the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel: The Series fandoms, but has since been procured by many other fandoms as well. See also: Kripked

Kidfic -- refers to stories in which either the canon characters have been changed into children, a fic set in a time back when they were children, or stories featuring either their own children or unrelated children in a prominent role.

Kink -- refers to an unusual element of a story that some authors and readers find especially pleasing, but which others may consider squicks. (Remember: what turns you on, may turn someone else off!) Kinks vary from mild (PG-13) to extreme (NC-17) sexual acts, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: Squick
Moonbeam's Note: If you are wondering what kinds of things count as "kinks", Livejournal user Eliade has compiled an enormous list of potential kinks, tropes, and cliches that are used in fanfiction. At present, she has almost 400 things already.

Kinkmeme -- refers to generally anonymous writing fests in which memers can post story prompts or kink-requests and authors can fill them. Anonymity is the general default in the meme, allowing folks the opportunity to write or request kinks they may otherwise be embarrased to admit having, but of course anyone can de-anon if desired. While kinkmemes can generate very explicit kinks that many others may find squicky, the anonymity of the meme keeps things open and nonjudgmental. Also, not all kinks are actually "kinky" -- many prompts are merely concepts or ideas that a reader is interested in and not sexual at all. Stories written can range from tiny mini-fills to lengthy epics, Gen, Het or Slash, rated 'G' to 'NC-17'. No limits is pretty much the name of the game. See also: Challenge, Kink and/or Prompt

Knotting -- refers to a specific kink trope of growing popularity in which at least one member of the sexual pairing possesses borderline animal-like traits such as a penis with a knot at the base that can swell to lock the male inside his partner, tying them together for a short period of time until the knot deflates. Usually seen in Omega-verse fics, bestiality fics, or stories dealing with part-animal creatures such as werewolves. See also: Bestiality, Kink, Omega and/or Trope

Kripked -- refers to stories or ideas previously conceived by fans suddenly becoming canonical because the original source material coincidentally also took the same path. Is the lucky exact opposite of the more common happenstance of an author being "Jossed" by the canon instead. Derived from show writer/creator Eric Kripke, who has repeatedly managed to validate fans' assumptions and predictions either accidentally or (perhaps) deliberately, as he is known to monitor fan activity and commit fan service. Originated in the Supernatural fandom, but has since been procured by many other fandoms as well. See also: Fan Service and/or Jossed

LoC = Letter of Comment -- refers to a quick, short message of appreciation a reader gives an author. See also: Feedback

Lurker -- refers to a reader who does not comment or review a fic or post. Lurkers 'lurk' quietly in the background, their presence unseen and often unknown, merely passively absorbing the fandom without actively participating. Lurkers may leave anonymous reviews when able, but generally prefer to remain unobtrusively in the shadows away from any possible wank. See also: Feedback, Review and/or Wank

m/f = Male/Female -- refers to a heterosexual relationship involving a man and a woman. See also: Het

m/m = Male/Male -- refers to a homosexual relationship involving two men. See also: Slash

Manip = Short form of "Manipulation" -- refers to an image that is created, usually via Photoshop (or some equivalent software), by manipulating a pre-existing picture into a new creation. May be quite an obvious alteration to the original image or look very realistic. May also be erotic in nature, in which case they are often marked "NSFW" to forewarn viewers to be careful about when and where they open them. See also: Fanart and/or NSFW

Mary-Sue (or Marty-Stu/Gary-Stu) -- refers to the presence of an original character that represents an idealized image of the author. They are often portrayed as the most beautiful, intelligent, powerful character with whom everybody falls in love and they can fix everybody's problems. They have often also survived some great tragedy that has molded them heroically into being a better person, and we should all bow down before their perfect greatness. *rolls eyes* Essentially, Mary-Sues are annoying and completely un-realistic figures as they have not a single human flaw within them. They are strongly detested by most readers, but most frequently written by young new authors without the age and/or experience to differentiate between an interesting original character and the dreaded Mary-Sue. Thankfully, given time and exposure, such authors usually grow out of the Mary-Sue compulsion within a year or two. (So please be gentle with them, okay? Most of us won't admit it, but when we first started writing fanfic we probably fell into the Mary-Sue trap as well, so we have no right to point fingers.) This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings, assuming the author is themself able to make the distinction, of course. Interpretation of a character as a Mary-Sue can be subjective, but there are several "Mary-Sue Litmus Tests" that can be taken to judge whether or not your character is one such. Please note, even the professionals have been known to perpetuate this blight on quality in their own canons from time to time (::cough:: Wesley Crusher ::cough::) so it can be difficult to avoid. In general, aim to create complex original characters instead of one-dimensional Barbie look-alikes and you stand a good chance of being safe. See also: OFC, OMC and/or Self-Insert

Masterlist -- refers to a single post which serves as the main point of contact for a collection of interconnected stories, either individual chapters within a larger work or a series of separate stories, that is collated into one place for ease of reading. Authors will often create a masterlist if their fics have been published across multiple platforms and cannot be easily found or cross-indexed any other way.

Meta (-fic) -- refers to stories in which certain meta-like qualities apply. The term "meta" itself refers to something that is abstracted about itself, an X about X. It is used as both a prefix and an adjective. In fic, this includes stories which break the "fourth wall" between fiction and reality, and stories which are written as thinly-veiled commentaries on fandom or real life existence. Will often be humourous or crackfic, but can be quite serious as well. See also: Omake

Missing Scene -- refers to a, usually, short story written to fill in, add to, or flesh out a gap in the canon episode's storyline. See also: Tag and/or Timestamp

MST (-ing) = Mystery Science Theatre -- refers to an author embedding humourous personal comments within the body of a fanfiction story. Based on the old TV show, Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (MST3K), in which a narrator tossed in snarky ad-libs while telling a story.

MPreg = Male Pregnancy -- refers to stories featuring a male character capable of conceiving and/or carrying a child within their own body. May or may not include the birth as well. Obviously considered AU-ish. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings.

Multimedia -- refers to stories containing other forms of media than just prose to tell the story. May include pictures, videos, and/or audio files. The extra media does not just accompany the text, but is an integral part as it aides the storytelling itself in some way.

Multiple Partners -- refers to stories involving sexual relationships of more than two people. The terms (m/m/m), (m/f/m), (m/f/f), etc... indicates genders of the involved members (often in the order involved) in the polyamory pairing. OT3s (or any number higher) are automatically included. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: OTP

Muse -- refers to the source of inspiration for an author or artist. May be another person or thing, or just an aspect of their own imagination. It is what usually breeds the plotbunnies in an author's mind, but it can be impeded temporarily or permanently. This frustrating situation is widely known as Writer`s Block and is the bane of many an author's existence. See also: Plotbunny

NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month -- refers to an annual event that occurs every November in which participants sign up to write a minimum of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days or less. Please see NaNoWriMo for more information.

NC-17 -- refers to the strongest rating a story may carry; indicating graphic or explicit sex and/or violence. Must be 18 years or older to read the story.

Newbie -- refers to a fan, author or reader, who is relatively new to the fandom (or the concept of fandom in general) and does not yet know all of the ways of the fandom. Newbies can, due to their lack of knowledge, make mistakes in interacting with other established fans that can be glaringly obvious, such as the creation of Mary-Sue characters. However, given time and patience they will eventually learn and adapt. This glossary in particular was designed specifically to help newbies familiarize themselves with the language of fandom so that they might more quickly be assimilated into the collective community. See also: Mary-Sue

Non-Con = Non-Consensual -- refers to the presence of non-consensual sexual contact within a story, whether implied or described. It will be clearly unwanted and undesired contact that may or may not go as far as rape. The victim may be mentally or physically incapable of giving consent at all, such as by being unconscious or intoxicated, or unwilling to give consent for any reason and be forced to endure the unwanted sexual contact anyway. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: Dub-Con and/or Rape

Not!fic -- refers to stories that are not entirely written out, but may be told through summary aided by occasional prose, dialogue, author's notes, or supporting documents. Are usually written as comment fics and often seen on Tumblr. Are usually short and cracky. May or may not ever be rewritten into full-fledged proper stories as not!fics are many times an author's way of planning or outlining a longer story they would like to write but are unable to at the moment for whatever reason.

Novel (-la) -- refers to stories of great length, usually at least 200Kb or 30,000 words. Minimum length requirements vary among fandoms, but in general a novella tends to be somewhat shorter than a novel, though still long in and of itself.

NSFW = Not Safe For Work -- refers to stories or images that contain elements, usually of an explicitly sexual nature, that make them inappropriate to be opened in a public domain such as one's place of employment.

OOC = Out-Of-Character -- refers to the fact that the characterizations used by an author are not those established by canon standards. Personality development flaws may be deliberate or accidental, for the better or (more likely) detriment to the story. Please note that even the most fantastical of AUs can be written with the characters still in-character, if one is careful.

OC = Original Character -- refers to a non-canon character created by the author that is featured prominently in the story. May be male or female, and either a major or minor character in comparison to the canon characters. May or may not be a Mary-Sue. See also: Mary-Sue

OFC = Original Female Character -- refers to a female character created by the author that is featured prominently in the story. May or may not be a Mary-Sue. See also: Mary-Sue

OMC = Original Male Character -- refers to a male character created by the author that is featured prominently in the story. May or may not be a Gary-Stu. See also: Mary-Sue

Omega (-verse or Alpha/Beta/Omega (A/B/O) or Alpha/Omega) -- refers to a growing trope originated in kinkmemes in which characters can be Alphas (dominant males or females), Betas (ordinary working class), or Omegas (submissive males or females). Exact details vary, but similar themes of mating, heat cycles, knotting, and mpreg are fairly universal. May contain elements of BDSM, and are often generally high in kink factors. See also: BDSM, Heat Cycle, Kink, Kinkmeme, Knotting and/or Trope

Oneshot -- refers to a single story that can be read and understood in full without having read any other prior story. Stand alones are complete in and unto themselves, and are not related to any other story by that author, or any other author for that matter. Also called Stand Alones. See also: Series and/or Stand Alone

OP = Original Poster -- refers to the first person to start a conversational thread, the first person to post about a certain topic. In anonymous story memes, the OP is the person who makes the prompt request in hopes an obliging author will fulfill it. See also: Anon and/or Kinkmeme

OTP = One True Pairing -- refers to an author's preferred relationship pairing between certain characters within a fandom. (An OT3, for example, refers to one's preferred trio of lovers, when two just isn't enough.) Fans may have many pairings they support, even multiple OTPs in a single fandom for different sets of characters. See also: Pairing and/or Shipper

Outside POV = Outside Point of View -- refers to stories written from the perspective of a non-major character, who observes the main characters while often not knowing or recognising the significance of details that are readily apparent to the reader. Can be either a minor character, a crossover character, or an original character. See also: POV

Pairing -- refers to the main characters featured in a romantic or sexual relationship within the story. May be het (m/f) or slash (m/m or f/f) or consist of multiple characters. Stories featuring pairings are distinguished from gen friendship fics with those same characters by the presence of the "/" between the names. Also, while by no means standard or definitive, pairing listings often tend to indicate the 'top' or 'dominant' character first and the 'bottom' or 'submissive' character second around the "/" symbol. Gen fics which included the same characters in a purely platonic relationship will often, but not always, use a comma or the "&" symbol instead of the "/" to list the story's cast. Pairings can be indentified either by writing out the full first and/or last names of the characters (ex: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson), the initals or abbreviation of the characters names (ex: HG/SS or MSR or Wincest), or by employing the growing practice of 'name-smooshing' whereby parts of each character's name are mashed together to come up with a new word to describe the pairing (ex: Brangelina or McShep). Please note that if initials, abbreviations, or name-smooshing are used, readers not completely familiar with the fandom or its conventions may not be able to understand the pairing referenced. See also: Het, Slash, Shipper and/or OTP

Parody -- refers to a audaciously familiar but somehow skewed story concept created for the sole intent of good-naturedly mocking the easily-recognized original canon or story. Often humourous, but may be merciless in making fun as well. See also: Badfic and/or Filk

Picspam -- refers to a story or post that is very image-heavy, mostly because it is at least 90% made up of pictures (or manips) that can flood your browser like 'spam'. Will usually come with forewarnings for users with slower bandwidths, and are often hidden or linked to avoid accidental viewing. Picspams usually follow some sort of theme, be it merely repeatedly showcasing pretty pictures of beloved actors/characters or by using the images to actually tell a story. See also: Manip

Plagiarism -- refers to the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the misrepresentation of them as one's own original work. This includes not only taking an author's work and calling it your own (whether or not you "changed" some details) but any use or redistribution of it without permission. While it can be argued that all fanworks are unlicensed uses of the original source material in the first place, in general the distinction comes from the fact that we do not steal, but create from it. Plagiarism is nothing more than lazy, literary theft and is very, very frowned upon. If you wish to share or borrow aspects of an author's work, simply contact them and ASK -- you may be surprised by just how many are more than happy to allow it. However, if the person says "no" or you are unable to reach them for any reason, that's it. Any further work beyond that point crosses the boundary into plagiarism. See also: Disclaimer
Moonbeam's Note: Portions of this definition were borrowed without permission from the Random House Dictionary (© 2009) retrieved via Dictionary.com. (And yes, I do realise the irony! :P)

Plot -- refers to the overall storyline, plan, or scheme within the narrative of a fanfiction story. May include action, mystery, suspense, romance, humour, be cracky or totally serious, etc... whatever elements an author wants, so long as something besides pure sex actually happens within the fic to advance the story along some kind of narrative path.

Plotbunny -- refers to the rampant and often uncontrollable story idea that smacks an author in the face (often at the most inappropriate of times!) and demands to be written. Such fuzzy pests are generally wild and quick to breed subplots, but are also ridiculously irresistible. Some authors, if unable to attend to their plotbunnies right away, will share them with other authors seeking to adopt. Plotbunnies may either be of a serious nature or, more often, completely crazy crack. However, all bunnies are usually well-loved -- even the poor abandoned ones. ;)

Podfic -- refers to a form of transformative work in which fanfiction stories are recorded in audio using the podcast format. Stories may either be read aloud by the author themself, or by another fan with the author's permission. See also: Fanfic and/or Fanwork

Porn (or Smut) -- refers to stories or scenes of graphic sex, in which any plot or character development that also occurs is incidental to the sex itself. The term "smut" is most often used to denote adult stories containing an m/f relationship rather than slash (m/m) stories, while the term "porn" (or "pr0n" in L33t Speak) goes either way, however they are synonymous and interchangeable. See also: PWP and/or Smut

Post-Canon -- refers to stories set after the official canon's timeline ends, by as little as immediately after to far into the future. Stories are by necessity pure speculation and can be easily Jossed by later canon. Also known as "Future-fic". See also: AU, Future-fic, Jossed

POV = Point of View -- refers to stories written from a certain character's perspective, in which the readers experience everything within that story the same way the character does without any insight into the thoughts or motivations of the other characters. Unless the POV is omniscient, in which case the reader is aware of every characters' thoughts because they experience the story from all perspectives. Can be either a minor character, a crossover character, or an original character. See also: Outside POV

Pre-Series -- refers to stories set before the official canon's timeline begins, by as little as days before to often back when the characters themselves were children. Often contains backstory, but may be acknowledged alternate universes not attempting to remain canon-compliant. Even if the author does make an effort to do so, they can be easily Jossed by later canon. See also: AU, Backstory and/or Jossed

Pre-slash -- refers to stories in which a homosexual romantic relationship does not yet exist, but there is the potential likelihood for one to occur as there is noticeable attraction or clear feelings between same sex characters. Such stories are still technically Gen and rarely exceed a PG-13 rating, but due to the non-heteronormative insinuations are often marked just in case. Alas, there is no opposite "pre-het" version, as heterosexual inclinations are generally considered expected and unworthy of separate mention in our current culture, much to some people's (ahem!) dissatisfaction. See also: Gen and/or Slash

Profic -- refers to entirely original stories that are professionally written and published in hopes of making a profit. Many authors who begin their writing careers with fanfiction before going pro often remove all trace of their unauthorised fanfics from the internet once they become successful to prevent being sued for copyright violation. A recent story of a fanfiction author gaining professional fame is Cassandra Clare who wrote popular Harry Potter stories before publishing her best-selling "City of Bones" novel.

Prompt -- refers to a story idea issued in the desire that it will spawn a plotbunny and inspire an author to write a fanfic. May consist of as little as one word, a phrase or quote, or be more detailed scenarios even listing preferred pairings and/or kinks. See also: Plotbunny

PWP = Plot? What Plot? -- refers to stories with a defining charactertistic of little to absolutely no plot. May be vignettes, character studies or, most frequently, strictly pure sex. The term may also be known as or possibly evolving to mean Porn Without Plot. See also: Porn, Smut and/or Vignette

R&R = Read & Review -- refers to a plea by the author begging readers to click on their story and write a review or comment. Usually only seen on Fanfiction.Net, by young eager authors. Its success as a plea to elicit feedback is questionable. See also: Feedback

Rape -- refers to the presence of non-consensual sexual assault within a story, whether implied or described. It is an extreme form of non-con, and may often be traumatic for both the fictional victim and the reader, even if not graphically described. This can frequently be a squick for many people, if not an outright trigger for survivors, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: Dub-Con, Non-Con and/or Trigger

Rarepair -- refers to a pairing combination that is not often seen in a given fandom and has few fans who ship it. Often features minor canon characters rather than the main cast members, though it may consist of a major character paired with a minor character as well. May also include rare crossover pairings. See also: Pairing and Shipper

Rating -- refers to a classifcation system in which a story is marked for suitablity by age or content. Rating levels indicate what amount of graphic language, violence, or sexual content a reader might anticipate within the story. Most fanfiction ratings still follow the USA Motion Picture Ratings established for television and movies, whereby G=General Audiences, PG=Parental Guidance, PG-13=Parental Guidance for Anyone Under 13, R=Restricted to Mature Audiences Only, and NC-17=No Children Under 17 Permitted. However there are a growing number of sites now using the non-copyrighted Fan Rated Rating System with its equivalent values, and some other sites that use their own personal systems. See also: NC-17

Reboot -- refers to a complete reworking of a fanfic story or original source material's canon, in which all or most of the original continuity is erased to begin anew with fresh plots, characterizations, and histories. It essentially recreates the work and starts over from a blank slate. See also: Continuity and/or Retcon

Rec = Recommendation -- refers to a story written by another author that a reader considers to be especially good and worth suggesting to other fans in order to share the love. May also be referred to as "pimping" because you are attempting to make the recommended story especially attractive to the other readers to entice them to read it as well.
Moonbeam's Note: For the curious, a large cross-indexed list of my favourite story recommendations can be found at my
Pinboard social bookmarks. Updated daily.

Remix -- refers to a story written by a second author that is a (often total) rewriting of a first author's story, usually from a new perspective or with a different ending. Usually only done as ficathons or with personal permission from the original author. An unauthorized remix could rightly count as plagiarism, so prior approval is necessary. See also: Ficathon and/or Fanwork

Retcon = Retroactive Continuity -- refers to a story or idea written to change or add to the already established history of a canon or fanfic. Often, it is performed to smooth out continuity so that there are no gaps or glaring errors in the characterizations or plotlines as new ideas are introduced. Alternatively, it may completely change the meaning of all other continuity and result in a total "reboot" of the work. See also: Continuity and/or Reboot

Review -- refers to a, usually public, comment on a story written by a reader. Some sites allow readers to make anonymous reviews, but it is still considered good netiquette to sign your review with your name so that the author can thank you or reply to it if necessary. Anonymous "reviewers" who take use of the opportunity to leave flames without chance of reprisal are why many other sites require readers to sign-in before they can leave comments. See also: Feedback and/or Flame

RPF and/or RPS = Real Person Fiction and/or Slash -- refers to stories featuring the actors themselves (rather than the characters they play) or some other real life person, celebrity, or historical figure. If RPS, those real people are placed in a homosexual relationship. This genre is generally frowned upon by many fandoms, and many archives and moderators refuse to permit it to be posted. However, some fandoms not only permit it, they even welcome it -- Lord Of The Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Supernatural for example. All bandoms (fandoms about musical bands) are automatically RPF or RPS by default. Occasionally, RPF or RPS elements may also intersect with fanfiction universes as well, if a real life person is written into a fictional world. Remember, this topic is a highly-debated issue in many fandoms, and a major squick for many people, so it should be listed in the author's warnings. Check with your fandom's communities and archives' rules prior to posting RPF or RPS just in case it is explicitly forbidden.

RPG = Role Playing Game -- refers to stories featuring the characters from a multiplayer role playing game, in which players interact as if they were the characters themselves. An RPG fic may either be written from the point of view of a canon character in the game setting or of an original fan-created character in the game. RPGs usually diverge greatly from the canon source material, so are often very AU. See also: AU

Round Robin -- refers to stories written by multiple authors taking turns; often open to the public so that anyone can add a passage to the ever-growing story.

RST = Resolved Sexual Tension -- refers to the presence of a sexual relationship, the 'inevitable' resolution of pre-existing UST; either implied or described. RST may indicate an Established Relationship, or one that becomes so before the story's end. Originated in The X-Files fandom, but has since been procured by several other fandoms as well. See also: ER and/or UST

Rule 34 -- refers to one of the Rules Of The Internet originally coined as a 4chan meme which essentially states: "If it exists, there is porn of it." In fandom, this rule means that if a fan can conceive of a topic, be it kink or pairing or whatever else have you, someone else has likely already written it. If not, the corollary Rule 35 states that such porn will soon be created. See also: Rule 63

Rule 63 -- refers to one of the Rules Of The Internet originally coined as a 4chan meme which essentially states: "For any given male character, there is a female version of that character." In fandom, this rule is the reason for the prevalence of the Genderswap trope, be it the 'sudden-sex-change' or 'always-a-girl' variation on the theme. It also applies to the opposite of female characters rewritten/redrawn as males too. See also: Genderswap and/or Rule 34

Self-Insert -- refers to a story that features an original character who deliberately and purposefully represents the author, for they have actually written themselves directly into the story to interact with the characters. Most often used for humour, as a parody or to provide commentary, but may also be done seriously. Author's who insert themselves into the story need to be careful not to cross the very thin line that separates their original character from a Mary-Sue, the idealized and non-realistic representation of what the author wishes to be. A feat that is no small challenge. See also: Mary-Sue

Sequel -- refers to a story that is the continuation of a previous fic that was written earlier. It may pick up immediately where the last one left off, or much later in the original story's continuity. If another sequel to the sequel is written, they have then become a series. See also: Series

Series -- refers to multiple interconnected stories that follow one another in a sequential order. See also: Stand Alone

Sex Pollen -- refers to stories in which some sort of external influence (often the pollen of a plant, hence the name, but may be any kind of drug, magic, or mind-control) causes the characters to spontaneously engage in sexual relations, often oblivious to gender or sexuality or even propiety. Is a classic sci-fi trope. Originated in various classic Comics and Science Fiction fandoms, but has since been procured by several other kinds of fandoms as well. See also: Dub-Con and Trope

'Shipper (-ness) = Short form of "Relationshipper" -- refers to someone who supports the idea of two specific characters being involved in a romantic or sexual relationship. May or may not be the fans' OTP. When the pairing of choice is homosexual, the proponent may also be said to be a "slasher" instead. See also: OTP and Slash

Schmoop -- refers to stories which contain scenes of especially loving, sappy romantic fluff such as PDAs (Public Displays of Affection). See also: Fluff

Slash -- refers to the presence of a homosexual relationship featuring at least one canon character. May or may not include graphic or explicit sexual content. Derived from the "/" used to indicate the specific characters paired off; orignated by Kirk/Spock (of Star Trek) slash over 40 years ago. Male/male homosexual content is always known as "slash", while female/female homosexual content may also be known as "femslash" or "femmeslash". This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: f/f, m/m, Yuri and/or Yaoi

Slave (-fic) -- refers to stories featuring characters who have been either trained as or forced into (often sexual) slavery. Such fics tend to have high incidences of abuse and rape, although not necessarily. Often contain BDSM. May or may not be AU. Usually carry multiple warnings and high ratings.

Slow Burn -- refers to stories featuring characters who gradually and naturally fall in love or lust before beginning a romantic or sexual relationship. As the emphasis is on the slow evolution of the relationship rather than a quick conflagration into sudden resolution, such stories may contain a lot of UST and pining until the smoldering passion catches fire.

Smarm -- refers to physical or emotional displays of affection between characters, usually of the same gender but not necessarily, that are considered completely non-sexual in nature. Often represented as the affection of family or deep friendships. (Smarm is NOT slash!) Originated in the Starsky and Hutch fandom, but has since been procured by several other fandoms as well.

Smut (or Porn) -- refers to stories or scenes of graphic sex, in which any plot or character development that also occurs is incidental to the sex itself. The term "smut" is most often used to denote adult stories containing an m/f relationship rather than slash (m/m) stories, while the term "porn" (or "pr0n" in L33t Speak) goes either way, however they are synonymous and interchangeable. Sub-category of a PWP. See also: Porn and/or PWP

Snark -- refers to a type of sarcastic wit or verbal interplay between characters. Snark tends to run the slightly more biting edge of humour than mere sarcasm. Characters whom excel in it are referred to as being "snarky". The term was first coined by Lewis Carrol in The Hunting of the Snark, and is believed to be derived from the combination of "snide" and "remark". See also: Humour

Songfic -- refers to stories inspired by music, often with the meaning or lyrics of the song used to embellish the story itself. See also: Filk

Spoiler -- refers to stories or comments which contain scenes or information crucial to a specific episode of the canon material, often about major plot points or character developments. The accidental or deliberate revelation of the information prior to seeing the canon material usually "spoils" the surprise/pleasure for the reader in discovering the information themselves. Warning for spoilers allows readers to make the choice themselves about whether or not they wish to proceed and discover the unknown information willingly or skip the story until later, instead of having the surprise unpleasantly ruined when they least expected it.

Squick -- refers to possibly offensive elements (ie: bestiality, BDSM, rape, torture, domestic discipline, etc...) of a story which may cause feelings of unease or revulsion in a reader. Most likely derived from the combination of the word "squeamish" and the slang term "icky." Authors should provide warnings of any and all possible squicks in their stories, especially those that may be triggering to trauma survivors. (Remember: Different people are squicked by different things! Besides, one person's squick may be another's kink... so it's not always a bad thing to advertise.) See also: Kink, Trigger and/or Warning

Stand Alone -- refers to a single story that can be read and understood in full without having read any other prior story. Stand alones are complete in and unto themselves, and are not related to any other story by that author, or any other author for that matter. Also called Oneshots. See also: Oneshot and/or Series

Steampunk -- refers to type of story which features anachronistic technology, usually futuristic adaptions of modern creations into Victorian or Wild West era steam-powered technology. Is a common subgenre of the Science Fiction & Fantasy world, both in and out of fandom.

Subtext -- refers to the subtextual (unspoken or unwritten) connotations that are nevertheless evident as occurring 'between the lines' to the reader or viewer, generally as discerned through context or body language and tone. Subtext among characters usually refers to a perceived underlying attraction that presents the possibility of a potential sexual or romantic relationship developing between the characters, either in canon or fandom. See also: UST

Summary -- refers to a brief description of a story that captures the reader's attention and entices them to read the fic. Can be as detailed or vague as author desires, identify main elements such as plot-points or featured characters, or contain a quote from the story itself. Should be interesting enough to attract readers, but not give away the entire point of the story. Is often the first tool a reader uses to judge whether they wish to read a story, so some care should be taken when writing one.

Tag (-fic or Episode Tag) -- refers to a, usually, short story that picks up from the end of a canon episode and adds to or fleshes out the episode in whole or in part. See also: Missing Scene and/or Timestamp

TBC = To Be Continued -- refers to the fact that the story is incomplete and a new chapter is yet to be written. Is not a promise that it will be finished, but generally indicates the author's awareness of its incomplete state and willingness to attempt to do so. See also: WIP

Timestamp -- refers to the date and/or time measurement used, usually, at the beginning of a story or chapter, to denote when the events therein occurred. A timestamp fic is a drabble, ficlet or other short story written about some specific time before, during, or after an episode or other story. Timestamps themselves may be as precise as right down to the nanosecond or more generalized, such as ten years later. See also: Missing Scene and/or Tag

TL;DR = Too Long; Didn't Read -- refers to the fact that a post or comment was excessively lengthy and readers may not wish to read the entire thing. Authors will often summarize their "teal deer" (as the acronym can be pronounced) thoughts with a few quick sentences at the end for those who wish to skip the main explanatory text and still catch the gist of the idea.

TPTB = The Powers That Be -- refers to the unseen controlling powers of a fandom's canon, they who brought it into being and who have the power to change it. Usually used within a disclaimer to represent the fandom's creator and/or copyright holders. Derived from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, in which The Powers That Be were old other-dimensional gods who made mortals into Champions to fight evil. See also: Disclaimer

Trigger (TW = Trigger Warning) -- refers to anything seen, read, or experienced that can cause a negative reaction within a trauma survivor's psyche, such as flashbacks or extreme anxiety due to exposure to something which triggers the memory of the traumatic event to replay within their minds. Authors should, out of respect to survivors, provide story warnings for the most common triggers (ex: rape, suicide, abuse, self-harm, etc...) to prevent blindsiding their readers with unexpected suffering. Oftentimes, just the advanced knowledge alone is enough to override the trigger itself so that it does not adversely affect the reader if they are prepared for it ahead of time. Even if an author chooses not to warn for squicks, they should still provide basic trigger warnings as a common courtesy. See also: Warning

Troll -- refers to someone (who is usually cowardly anonymous) who deliberately and often repeatedly makes inflammatory or off-topic comments in a ploy to rile up other people and create dissension. Trolls set out to induce emotional responses, preferably as explosive as possible, and don't actually seem to care about whatever point they are making so long as it starts an argument. In truth, trolls cannot and should not be argued with at all because you can't make them see reason and you are only encouraging them to be even more disruptive if you try. Hence, the frequently used reminder of "Please Do Not Feed The Trolls", because often the only way to get rid of them is to simply ignore them. See also: Flame and/or Wank

Trope -- refers to a conventional literary device or figure of speech in which elements within a story plot, setting, characterization, or 'behind the scenes' of a fanwork (or canon source material) are a common concept that audiences are already familiar with and can easily recognize. Tropes are related to the concept of clichés but are not actually the same thing, especially in that they are not necessarily overused to the point of being distracting. Rather tropes are significant or recurrent themes whose universality makes them a convenient conduit for familiar concepts. See also: Cliche
Moonbeam's Note: There is a very informative (and addictive!) wiki, Television Tropes & Idioms (aka "TV Tropes"), which seeks to fully exemplify as many tropes as possible in a variety of media. The site also includes some classic clichés and idioms, as well.

Underage -- refers to stories featuring at least one main character below the age of majority (be it 16yrs, 18yrs, or 21yrs depending on author and country of origin) whom engages in a romantic or sexual relationship, whether with another underage character or a recognized adult. The characters who are technically minors usually consent willingly to the relationship in such stories, but the fics may contain non-con/rape as well so watch for warnings. See also: Chanslash

Universe (aka -verse, 'verse or !verse) -- refers to the general overall environment in which an author's stories or series exist, usually containing some similar traits such as backstory or common original characters. Stories written within the same universe may be connected by those similar traits but do not necessarily follow sequentially as a series does. See also: Series

UST = Unresolved Sexual Tension -- refers to the presence of an unrealised sexual relationship, but in which the characters react (either unawares or purposefully) to their wants and needs. Differs from subtext in that the attraction is not merely a perceived interpretation but an actual factor influencing the characters. Originated in The X-Files fandom, but has since been procured by several other fandoms as well. See also: Subtext and/or RST

Vignette -- refers to a short simple story that focuses solely on exploring a poignant moment, impressionistic idea, or thoughtful character study rather than developing plot, action, or characterization. See also: PWP

VS = Virtual Season -- refers to a fan-based continuation of a TV show after its series finale or, conversely, the re-writing of a season to the fans' desire. Often presented in fanfiction format, one 'episode' per week, in accordance with scheduled 'air-dates' and 'VS canon' guidelines that author must adhere to in the creation of their episode/stories.

WAFF (-iness) = Warm And Fuzzy Feelings -- refers to stories with no angst but lots of sappiness, which inspire the aforementioned warm and fuzzy feelings in the reader. See also: Fluff

Wank -- refers to a degeneration in online discussion from civil discourse to complaints, whining, and (often vulgar) bitching. Can occur at anytime, but generally only when egos are in high attendance and someone takes offense easily. (Or if there is a troll about to deliberately stir things up!) Posturing, aggression, and flame wars are common. Many lists and communities will try to put a stop to the wank before it becomes overwhelming, although it may end up immortalised on Fandom_Wank to illustrate the stupidity when/if it gets completely out of hand. See also: Flame and/or Troll

Warning -- refers to header information at the beginning of a story that lists possible offensive, squicky, or spoilery elements so that a reader may be prepared for what they might encounter if they choose to continue reading the story. Warnings for all major squicks should if possible be given, especially those that may trigger flashbacks in trauma survivors, but it is subjective to the author's preferences. Readers are ultimately the only ones responsible for filtering what they read, so must remain vigilant and stop reading if they come across something they really don't like. You cannot flame an author for failing to warn for something when anybody can just hit the Back Button on their browser if they stumble across something that makes them uncomfortable. Warning is a courtesy, a valuable one, used to varying levels among different fandoms but in the end still solely an author's perogrative. See also: Kink, Spoiler, Squick, and/or Trigger

Wingfic -- refers to stories in which the wings of characters (either naturally, or in which the author has -- often gratuitously -- given the character) are featured. Are most often humourous crackfics and/or a type of kink for porn. See also: Crack and/or Kink

WIP = Work-In-Progress -- refers to the fact that the story is not yet completely written, but is actively undergoing updates and revisions. Some WIPs are updated frequently, even on regular schedules, while others are more slow as inspiration strikes. Stories may go months or even years between updates, but if the author has not explicitly stated that it has been abandoned or discontinued, the chance still exists that it will be updated. Authors usually welcome readers showing continued interest in their WIPs, but please do not harass an author to complete an unfinised story as that is merely rude.

Woobie (-ified) -- refers to a character who inspires great sympathy and desire to comfort due to the physical or emotional pain they appear to suffer through no fault of their own. A woobified character is one who is treated as such even if they might otherwise not qualify, possibly leading to some or a lot of OOC characterization to justify the woobification. See also: H/C and OOC

Worldbuilding -- refers to the original fictional universe an author creates for their stories. Most fanfictions do not require worldbuilding as the canon itself provides that starting off point, but many AUs do indeed richly develop entirely unique universes with their own rules and backgrounds from which to frame their new stories. See also: AU

Word of God -- refers to the statements and thoughts made by the "God" who created the canon source material (TV show, movie, book, etc...) upon which a fandom is based, but that are never shown within the canon itself. As the words are direct from the original creator they may also be considered canon by certain fans. Whether or not the Word of God should be accepted as true canon is subjective to each person, as there are a large contingent of fans who believe if it is not shown then it simply doesn't count. See also: Canon

Whump -- refers to stories in which physical or emotional pain is heaped on a favourite character, often repeatedly and brutally. Very similar to Hurt/Comfort, but differentiated mainly by motive: H/C fics exist to provide one character the chance to offer comfort to the injured one, whereas whump fics are usually written more for the sheer pleasure of seeing the whumpee battered and bruised. See also: H/C and Limp!

'Zine = Short form of "Fanzine" -- refers to fanfiction stories published and sold or traded in printed hard-copy format or CD-ROM (ie: E-Zines) by individual authors or independant fan-created publishers. Costs vary, but are usually non-profit -- all proceeds tend to go directly to covering the costs of printing and binding the 'zines. Often include fan-created illustrations ('Fanart') and never-before-seen stories. Prior to the Internet and the World Wide Web, zine printing and selling was the dominant method of circulating fanworks around the planet, either by mailing through the postal system or trading in person when fans gathered at Cons. These practices do continue today with many fandoms and authors, and there are still several good zine publishers to help new authors get their work printed (ex: Agent With Style) if they are interested in experiencing this alternate format for story distribution. Traditionally, zine-published stories will not become available to the net until at least one year after the zine has been released, if ever.


Anime Fandom Terms

Chanslash -- refers to stories, usually slash and often (but not always) explicitly graphic, involving underage characters in a sexual or romantic relationship. Originated in and most common to anime fandoms only, but has popped up occasionally in other fandoms. See also: Underage

Hentai -- refers to the presence of graphic or explicit sexual content, either heterosexual or homosexual in nature. Often, the sexual content will be of a kinky or deviant subject matter, such as "tentacle porn". Japanese term, specific to anime fandoms only. Always rated NC-17. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: Lemon, Lime and/or Porn

Gijinka -- refers to stories featuring non-human things like inanimate objects, animals, or concepts being anthropomorphized and attributed human-like sentience, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Japanese term, specific to anime fandoms only. See also: Anthropomorfic

Lemon -- refers to the presence of graphic or explicit sexual content, either heterosexual or homosexual in nature. Lemons are usually more vanilla than hentai porn. Originated in and most common to anime fandoms only, but has popped up occasionally in other fandoms. Usually rated NC17. See also: Hentai and/or Lime

Lime -- refers to the presence of light or mild sexual content, either heterosexual or homosexual in nature. Originated in and most common to anime fandoms only, but has popped up occasionally in other fandoms. Usually rated PG13, as there is no actual "on-screen" action. See also: Hentai and/or Lemon

Omake -- refers to scenes or stories that are meta-fic outtakes of a main fic. Often humourous and full of crack, they also tend to break the fourth wall by having the characters interact with the author and/or readers, or possibly be aware of their own existence as fictional characters. Japanese term, originated in and most common to anime fandoms only, but has popped up occasionally in other fandoms. See also: Meta

Seme -- refers to the dominant character in a sexual, and usually male homosexual (m/m), relationship. In other words, the 'top' of the pairing. Japanese term, originated in and most common to anime fandoms only, but has popped up occasionally in other fandoms. See also: Yaoi

Uke -- refers to the submissive character in a sexual, and usually male homosexual (m/m), relationship. In other words, the 'bottom' of the pairing. Japanese term, originated in and most common to anime fandoms only, but has popped up occasionally in other fandoms. See also: Yaoi

Yaoi -- refers to the presence of a male homosexual (m/m) relationship. Japanese term, originated in and most common to anime fandoms only, but has popped up occasionally in other fandoms. In non-anime fandoms, the term 'Slash' is standard and generally considered more appropriate. May be referred to as Shōnen-ai (Boy's Love) if not explicit. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: m/m and/or Slash

Yuri -- refers to the presence of a female homosexual (f/f) relationship. Japanese term, originated in and most common to anime fandoms only, but has popped up occasionally in other fandoms. In non-anime fandoms, the terms 'Fem(me)slash' or 'Slash' are standard and generally considered more appropriate. May be referred to as Shōjo-ai (Girl's Love) if not explicit. This can frequently be a squick for many people, so should be listed in the author's warnings. See also: f/f and/or Slash


Fandom Specific Terms

A+ Parenting -- refers to how a parent of a character fails at being an actual loving, caring, decent guardian when raising their child. The term is used sarcastically, as the parent is obviously unworthy of receiving such a high passing grade in the skill of parenthood. May indicate a parent is who is not deliberately unjust but simply cannot understand their child's needs, but is more likely to indicate neglectful or harmful behaviour all the way to cruel and abusive. Most often used in reference to Odin (Thor and Loki's father) or Howard Stark (Tony Stark's father). Marvel-verse

Daemon -- refers to an animal-like companion that represents the soul of a character. Is usually the opposite gender of the person, they cannot be separated from their human without consequence, there are taboos about touching another person's daemon, and during childhood the daemon may shift shapes until settling on one form. His Dark Materials

ELF = Evil Lucas Fiction -- refers to stories wherein poor boy-genius Lucas Wolenczak is the target for physical, emotional and mental anguish. In ELF's, expect everything from child abuse to self-mutilation, in addition to the usual themes of hurt/comfort and high angst that are typical. seaQuest

Eurominutes -- refers to the extra minutes of an episode that were cut out of American broadcasts due to time constraints of advertisements. The cut portion did air in Canada and throughout Europe. Highlander

EWE = Epilogue? What Epilogue? -- refers to the preference of many fans to ignore the existence of the set-far-in-the-future epilogue JK Rowling wrote for the final Harry Potter book, Deathly Hallows. Harry Potter

Faction -- refers to a smaller group of fans within a larger fandom that is divided in its fans' preferences. While many fans can disagree about certain elements within a fandom (such as preferred pairings or characters), factions only develop if the number of members who adhere to a certain belief is particularly great. While strife among different factions is possible, generally they get along through acceptance, tolerance, and annual humour-filled cracky "wars" with each other (and their characters!) to relieve tension. Members can also belong to more than one faction, such as myself being both an UFer and Light Cousin. Forever Knight
Moonbeam's Note: A complete list of all FK factions and fraction factions can be found at
The Forever Knight Faction List.

Failwolf -- refers to, usually, the character of Derek Hale when he is being a ridiculous failure of a person due to his lack of social skills and inability to communicate effectively. The term is usually used affectionately. Teen Wolf

HEA = Happily Ever After -- refers to stories in which the characters find romance and close with a Happily Ever After ending. Twilight

HHJJ = Happy Happy Joy Joy -- refers to stories that either have no angst at all, or close with a Happily Ever After ending. HHJJ tends to be very light and fluffy. See also: Fluff and/or WAFF Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Limp! -- refers to an extreme type of whump story in which a certain character is generally so badly whumped/hurt/abused that they are all but helpless and unable to defend themselves. The name that appears after the exclamation point ("!") indicates which character is the (un)lucky hurtee. Usually, but not always, another character is present to care for the limp!character. May be more than one limp!character per story. See also: !, H/C and/or Whump Supernatural

Spider -- refers to an inconsistency or canon discrepancy in the plot or dialogue of a story. The Magnificent Seven

Sticky -- refers to a type of sexual intercourse that closely mimics human methods (and, often, body parts) when writing about robotic characters. Named so for the tendency to include the use or description of various "sticky" fluids. Contrasts alternative relationship methods such as: spark-bond (spiritual/emotional only), holo (robots use human holograms to engage in sex play), and plug-n-play (robots connect with cords and exchange electrical signals). A single story may contain only one type, or several variations of both sticky and non-sticky interaction. Transformers


Got something to add? Drop Moonbeam a line!

♥ With many thanks to all of you who have already contributed to the ever-growing list! ♥


Please note: While I have tried to define all the major vocabulary you might encounter, it would be impossible to include every variation of a theme in one concise list. Nor is it necessary for this particular glossary - as one clever contributor pointed out, this list is about orientation not documentation. It's an introduction to the unique language of fandom. For a more complete history and exploration of all possible versions of certain terms, please see the fan-created wiki encyclopedia, Fanlore. Thank you!



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