Solora’s Awesome Fanfiction Glossary- Part 1

I still remember my early days of browsing fanfiction. It was like entering a virtual alien land where the language was only somewhat familiar. With the rise of fandoms (a term I will cover here), and the many kinds of fan works that came with them, there was a rise of new words and old words with new meanings. Read on, and I will try to demystify the strange language of fanfiction.

-!: An exclamation point is a way of shortening descriptions, usually used to say that a character is different in some way from how they are in canon. For example Trans!Bob would mean that a character named Bob is a transgender character in the fanfiction in question, but not in the canon work he comes from. In my RWBY fanfiction “Goddess of Victory,” the character Pyrrha Nikos is a literal goddess, so I add a mention at the end of the description saying simply: Goddess!Pyrrha AU. This tells the reader that this is an Alternate Universe in which Pyrrha is a goddess without wasting precious description space.

-Alternate canon: Whenever a story tweaks the canon-verse, it can be seen as an alternate canon fic. Since most fics tweak canon in some way, this term isn’t used often.

-Animal Transformation AU: A common AU used by fanfiction writers. Involves one or more characters being transformed into an animal. The most common form of this that I’ve seen is a scenario where one character turns into a kitten, and the intended love interest in the story ends up taking care of them, often unaware of the identity of the kitten until the end.

-AU: Stands for Alternate Universe. Any story taking place in a universe that is different from the canon universe can fit into this category. For example, if a writer decides to take the characters of a sci-fi series and make them into college students, you would have a College AU. Alternate canon often ends up under this umbrella term.

-Author Notes: Some writers like to engage with their readers at the beginning and/or end of a fanfiction. The Author Notes are where writers can talk to their readers, respond to questions, explain if the fic is taking place during a certain point in canon, etc. They’re often set off by being written in bold or italics.

-Canon: Canon refers to what is “real” in the fictional work that fan works are being written about. For example, a fanfiction may include a character who has died in the series in question, but is alive in the fanfiction. The character’s death is a canon event, regardless of what happens in the fanfiction. Fanfiction writers may choose to ignore canon in their works, while others may incorporate it into what happens in certain plotlines.

-Canon-verse: Just as canon refers to anything that “actually” happened in the fictional worlds upon which fanfictions are based, the canon-verse is the world in which the actual works take place. It is the universe of the series as it was written by the original author.

-Coffeehouse AU: Another common AU used by fanfiction writers. It usually depicts two characters meeting and falling in love in a coffeehouse setting. One character is usually a barista while the other is a regular customer.

-Collection: A fanfiction where its chapters are individual, not necessarily connected scenarios.

-College AU: Another common AU used by fanfiction writers. It takes some or all of the characters, and places them in a college setting.

-Commission: A commission is a fanfiction written for payment. The commissioner gives the writer specifics concerning what they want to happen in the fic and what the word count should be, and the writer complies in exchange for an agreed-upon amount of money.

-Crossover: A fanfiction that includes two or more different fictional worlds interacting. It can involve the characters of one world ending up in another world, characters from both worlds interacting in a new setting, or basically anything that prominently features characters and settings from more than one fictional universe. Ben 10/Generator Rex: Heroes United is a good example of a crossover that happened in canon.

-Drabble: A shorter fanfiction, usually 1500 words or fewer, that has little overall plot, and is meant to show a single scene or train of thought. Often used in collections.

-Fanart: The visual equivalent of fanfiction. Fanart is art based on another work of fiction. Fanartists and fanfiction writers often collaborate with each other, whether it involves a fanartist making cover art for a fanfiction, or a writer making a fic based on a scenario in a piece of fanart.

-Fandom: Refers to the fan community surrounding a work of fiction. Members of a fandom can range from fanfiction writers and fanartists, to roleplayers, to people who make forums dedicated to predicting what might happen in the next installment.

-Feels: Refers to any strong emotion that is evoked while consuming a work of fiction. Sadness is usually the emotion in question, but tearful happiness can also be used.

-Femslash: Refers to a fanfiction featuring a romantic pairing of two females. Femslash = lesbian. (see also Slash)

-Fic: A shortened term for fanfiction. Often used in conversation. Fanfic can also be used.

-Flame: A harsh, overly-negative review or comment that has no constructive criticism and was essentially written to insult the fanfiction, the writer, or both.

-Fluff: Refers to a fanfiction meant to evoke good feelings, “warm and fuzzies,” if you will. If you see fluff in the description, you are in for a feel-good fic with often sickeningly-sweet descriptions of people being happy.