1. What is fan fiction?
Fan fiction is a story based on specific piece of literature, movie, anime, etc. that is written by a fan instead of the original creator. It uses the characters and settings of the original. It gives you more to enjoy beyond the original story.
“Fan fiction” as based on another’s story has been documented back to the Brontes. Arthur Conan Doyle’s readers often wrote their own stories based on “Sherlock Holmes”. However, the term “fan fiction” and how we see it today came into popularity with works of science fiction. It started with Star Trek in the 1960s with Spockanalia, a printed fanzine. In Japan, a similar trend was happening around manga and anime.
The Internet (Usenet) allowed fans to gather and share their favorites. In 1998, FanFiction.Net allowed fans a place to upload and download content in any fandom. The ability to self-publish has made it the largest and most popular archive online. Find out more about the history of fan fiction.
Here are a few terms you might want to be aware of while searching fan fiction.
- Canon — the story / characters / settings as created originally
- AU — alternative universe. This means that a major plot point of the universe has changed or the characters are put into a different situation. For example, in the Harry Potter series, if Hermoine ends up with Harry instead of Ron, it’s AU.
- Fem! — male character(s) are female in the story
- Dark! — character is showing the dark / evil part of their personality
- Episode Coda — stories that occur after an episode (television or anime) that fit the canon
- Crackfic — stories that pushes the boundaries of the world
- Futurefic — stories that occur after the currently available canon
- Slash — same-sex male pairings
- Femslash — same-sex female pairings
- Het — heterosexual pairings
- Fluff — feel-good / warm and fuzzy story
- Crossover — using two or more canons in the same story, such as adding Smurfs to the Harry Potter universe
- Mary Sue — a character who is the fictional version of the author or an original character who functions as the protagonist, usually this person is *perfect* and the *best* at everything
Keep notes of other acronyms and words so you know what the story is about before you read it.
Length of fan fiction varies greatly. Some of the lengths are described as:
- Drabble — very short, often about 100 words
- Ficlet — longer than drabble, but still short
- One-shot — about a chapter long
There are many terms to describe longer stories such as epic and full-length.
You’ll usually find in US fandoms a rating similar to what you find in movies. Generally, they are:
- K — kid, suitable for all ages
- K+ — kid, but over the age of 9
- T — teen, ages 13 and older
- M — mature teen, 16 and older
- MA — mature adult, 18 and older
NOTE: MA has been banned from many sites because of content. Even adults may find it distasteful.
6. Not created equal.
Should you read all of the fiction you can find? Be sure to know what you’re willing to read. If there’s something you don’t particularly like, be sure to check out the disclaimers and rating that goes with the story.
Fan fiction writers can be any age as long as they can write. Experience, writing ability and more can affect the readability of the story. Be sure to keep a list of the authors you enjoy so you can find more fan fiction by them.
7. How do I get fan fiction?
Check out some of the sites listed in “Sites to Explore” below to start reading fan fiction. You can also find applications available for many smart phones.
8. Check it out.
Read a few stories. Note what you liked and didn’t like about the story. Bookmark or save the stories you really enjoy so you can go back to them later.
Some fan fiction goes out as part of live discussions and forums. Check out the forums for your fan fiction choices to see what more you can find out.
10. Create your own.
If you’re interested in creating fan fiction, see the Enrichment Project badge program “Write Fan Fiction.”
Sites to Explore