An Intro to Fanfiction

by Kathy Wang

We all have that one favorite book, TV show, or movie that we love and can’t help fangirling about. However, some of us are so obsessed with it that we use the characters and continue their story through fanfiction. Some of us might read it, and others might write it.

The world of fanfiction is a vast world of creativity and exploration, but it can be a dangerous place, too. Ready to learn more about this wonderful, yet dangerous place? Let’s get started!

Let’s start off by defining what exactly fanfiction is. It’s pretty self-explanatory in it’s name: It’s fiction written by fans of books, TV shows, movies, celebrities, etc.

There are many websites that allow fans to post their own fanfictions online to their corresponding fandom, or the community of fans for a certain book series, TV show, etc. The most popular of these websites is On, you can read or post fanfiction about anything from books, to games, to crossovers, which are fanfictions where there are two or more fandoms involved in a fic. Some other notable websites are Wattpad, Archive of Our Own, and Quotev, but first, let’s start with some basic terms in fanfiction.

AU: AU stands for alternate universe, meaning it is a story in which the characters aren’t in their regular world. Example: Harry Potter characters aren’t wizards and they go to high school in Cleveland, Ohio.

OOC: This acronym stands for Out of Character. This is pretty self explanatory; a character won’t seem like themselves. Example: Jacob gossips about Edward to Bella at their weekly sleepover parties.

OC: OC stands for original character. Sometimes, the author of a fanfiction might want to insert themselves into the fanfiction, or want to add an additional character that doesn’t exist in that world.

Mary-Sue: A Mary-Sue can be an original character, or an out of character existing character. However, what’s special about these characters is that the author writes them so that they are perfect and have the perfect life. Example: Noelle was class president, student council president, chess team state champion, soccer team captain, and had a grade of 135% in all of her classes.

!: When there is a characteristic or an adjective followed by an exclamation mark, then that means in that particular fanfiction, the character mentioned will have that characteristic. Example: fem! Peeta and dumb! Katniss means that Peeta will be a girl and Katniss will be dumber than she is in the books.

One-shot: A one-shot is just a fanfiction that has one chapter. It’s just basically a short story. Similarly, a two-shot or three-shot has two or three chapters.

Fluff: Fluff usually is either a plot-less fanfiction or a cute fanfiction where two characters do something cute. Example: Percy and Annabeth lie on the grass under the stars for Percy’s birthday.

Canon: Canon refers to something that is true in that world brought to a fanfiction. It usually refers to relationships. Example: A part of a (really bad) summary of a story on might say “OMG I know that Clabastian* is totally not cannon, but I just don’t ship Clace**, even though that’s canon! This is how I would’ve written how they would meet in CoG***!!!”

Ship: Short for relationship. It can also be a verb if you support that relationship or a verb for putting a character in a relationship with another character.

*Clabastian: a relationship in which Clary is shipped with Sebastian

**Clace: ship with Clary and Jace

***CoG: The book City of Glass in The Mortal Instruments series

Now let’s look at some examples in what Fanfictions you *should NOT* read or write.


Okay, so you can tell that this fanfiction is a mess just from the title and summary.

1. The Title– The Title is “Voldemort Winkey Lemon.” First off, horrible name. What the heck?!?!

2. The Summary– The summary of the story is “Exactly what the title says.” The title is called “Voldemort Winkey Lemon.” Okay, well let’s analyze the title then. Voldemort… that means Voldemort’s probably in this fanfic. Winkey Lemon. Besides a lemon being a sour fruit, it has a much different meaning in fanfiction. In fanfiction, a lemon is a fic in which the characters will do some R-rated stuff. So basically, this fanfiction is about Voldemort doing some unmentionable R-rated stuff with an unknown character. In addition to that being a sign of a bad fanfic, the author is lazy enough to just write “Exactly what the title says” without any explanation of what the story is really about. This shows that the author didn’t take even the time to write a small synopsis of their story, and that gives us the feeling that this fanfiction won’t be worth your time.

Let’s take a look at a fanfiction that actually tried, but is still probably not the best fanfiction to read. This time, let’s look at a Wattpad fanfiction.


1. Title– “Kidnapped by ONE DIRECTION! (a One Direction fan-fiction)” WHOA, REALLY? I had NO IDEA that this was a One Direction fanfiction! I’m so excited to read someone being kidnapped by ONE DIRECTION!!! Yeah, the title is repetitive with unnecessary parentheses, ONE DIRECTION! is way too excited for a title, and if you look to the right, THERE ARE MORE KIDNAPPED-BY-ONE-DIRECTION-FANFICS!!! (That’s too many for one day.) This is just…overall self-explanatory.

2. Summary– Blah blah, typical “no one will miss me” storyline, kidnapped by One Direction (seriously? There’s no way their PR team would let them kidnap however many fangirls who have written about One Direction kidnappings), and WHOA. STOP RIGHT THERE. There are lies, secrets, pain, heartbreak, love, and friendship and KIDNAPPING?!?! I TOTALLY DIDN’T KNOW THAT FROM THE TITLE!!! It’s definitely not obvious what this fanfiction’s about! So interesting!

3. Tags– Romance. Okay, yeah, I got that from the summary. Car. Wow. This author tagged her fanfiction with car. It’s about a car. And One Direction. I just have no words for this. Direction. As in One Direction. Okay. I can deal with that. Random members of One Direction… and the tag “kidapped”. You would think that after writing a fanfiction on kidnapping, that one would manage to spell kidnapped right after typing it so many times. Or at least catch that error. More members of One Direction… and eight. More. Tags. One question: Why? That’s too many that probably aren’t even relevant!

4. Content– Judging by the criteria above, this fanfiction was written by a hardcore Directioner who needs to use better grammar and less caps and exclamation marks. And the 1.3 million views with 20.6 k views were probably from other hardcore Directioners who only dream of being kidnapped or being in a polyamorous relationship with One Direction. There are probably some well written One Direction fanfictions out there. Just use these basic criteria to find the fanfiction that will be to your satisfaction.

Have fun reading or writing fanfiction of your favorite genre or fandom!