If you’re new to Fanfic, or just confused by all the jargon & abbreviations, here’s a quick, simple guide to the most common terms you might need to know. There are also fandom & genre-specific abbreviations and terms, and a lot of general internet slang, txtspk, leet, and lolspeak within fanfic communities, but I’m going to let you use the power of Google to learn those.  I am including some terms you won’t find on my site. Most of these are warning labels that you’ll need to know if you want to avoid certain types of content on other archives.

I’ve snatched these from various places around the interwebs. So no, this is by no means my own original work. I’m just trying to educate folks :-).


Angst: Emotional/psychological/mental trauma.

Archivist: Someone who archives fanfiction on thier site.

AU: Alternate Universe. These fics go off canon to the point of having to exist in an alternate universe or timeline.

Beta: Beta Reader. Editor of fanfic.

Canon: the explicit facts of the fandom, as stated in the original source (book, show, movie).

Challenge: A challenge to write a fan fiction with a certain theme or within certain constraints. Any fiction which answers this is a challenge fic.

Characters: Imaginary characters from an existing fandom, used in fanfics.

Character Death: A heading or warning put on stories warning the reader that in the story one of the canon characters dies.

Continuation: A fic which carries on after the end of the original source.

Crackfic: Fic purposefully written to be crazy. In general, no rules apply. Meant to be humorous. Often just crappy writing.

Crossover (xover): A fic which incorporates characters, events, places, ideas, etc from another fandom.

Dark/Darkfic: Fanfic of the dark variety that may contain themes that are a lot darker than normal for the fandom. May include themes like rape (non-con), violence, suicide, etc.

Disclaimer: Something you will find on most fan-created websites and fanfictions. A statement disavowing ownership of the fandom/characters and the fact that the site/fanfic in question was done for non-profit reasons.

Drabble:  An extremely short fic. Technically, a drabble should be only 100 words, but the definition has expanded to 1,000 words. Used interchangeably with flashfic and ficlet.

Elseworld: Usually used to describe a Parallel Universe story or sometimes an Alternative History story where the “history” change is pretty radical. Similar to, but not always equal to AU.

Ep: Episode. Popular episodes/books/movies will have their own abbreviations.

Evil author fics: Fanfic authors who insert themselves into fics as “Author” or use their pen name in order to mess around with the characters. Generally intended to be humorous. See also “crackfic.”

Faction: Parts of a fandom which are split up among different issues in a fandom. For instance, those that support a character and those that don’t are considered factions.

Fandom: The activities, canon, characters, fan fiction, and fans of a particular show, movie, book, etc. This is also used as a synonym for “universe”, meaning the world in which a show, movie, or book takes place.

Fanon: Things that are not strictly canon, but do not contradict it and are widely accepted by most fans. Often fills in gaps in the canon.

Feedback [FB]: Replies that an author gets from readers commenting on the story. Also known as comments or reviews.

Femslash: A story depicting. Sexual situations between females. See also: slash.

FF.N: FanFiction.Net. A popular fan fiction archive. FF.N allows authors to upload their own work, unlike other archives which are moderated by an archivist.

F/F: A notation telling readers that a story contains a sexual situation between two females. Also known as femslash.

F/M: A notation telling the reader that sex between a female and a male is going to take place.

Ficlet: A short fic, usually under 1,000 words. Used interchangeably with drabble and flashfic.

Filk: A song that reflects certain themes/ideas/characters of a fandom. Similar to, but not the same as, song parody.

Flame: A negative, hurtful comment meant only to anger or upset a person. Also, to send a flame is to flame. It can be a noun or a verb.

Flashfic- A short fic, usually under 1,000 words. Used interchangeably with drabble and ficlet.

Fluff: A fic low on plot and heavy on relationship. Generally fluff fics don’t contain much angst or conflict. They frequently explore characters and relationships, with an optimistic outlook.

Genfic: Fan fiction which does not contain sexual situations. It is fan fiction that would be rated G to PG. It contains no sexual or overly graphic violence and relatively little cursing.

Hurt/Comfort [h/c]: A fan fiction in which a character is put through a traumatizing experience in order to be comforted.

IMfic/txtfic: A fic in which characters hold a conversation via IM or text. Usually horribly OOC and terrible in quality.

Lemon: Any fan fiction containing graphic sexual situations that are described. Much like adultfic and PWP’s, however a lemon might be a full length story that contains merely scene of graphic sex.

LJ: LiveJournal. A blogging platform used by many fanfic writers to post their work.

Mary-Sue: Any original female character which is too perfect, too extreme, or otherwise badly done. There is no real hard and fast standard for what constitutes a Mary Sue. Often considered a self-insertion.

Marty-Stu: Any original male character which is too perfect, too extreme or otherwise badly done. The male counterpart to a Mary Sue. Could be a self-insertion.

M/M: A heading denoting a sexual relationship between two or more males.

Newbie: Any fan that is new to a fandom or list. Also written noob or n00b.

Non-Con: Non-consensual sexual situations. Warning applied to fics dealing with rape.

OC: Original Character. An original character is any character that is not in the series and is created by the author.

OFC: Original Female Character. See also Mary Sue

OMC: Original Male Character. See also Marty-Stu

OOC: Out of Character. When a canon character acts in such a way as to be totally contrary to what they would in the series.

Pairing: The selection of characters that are in a relationship together. This is denoted by using the abbreviations of their names together or just their name.

Parody: A form of fanfiction that spoofs other movies/books/popular media by inserting the characters of one fandom into said media just for laughs. Most fandoms have fanfics that are spoofs or re-writes of popular shows like “Titanic”, “Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “Star Wars” with all the characters replaced by the author’s own dream cast.

Plotbunny: An affectionate term for an idea that sticks in your head and you just HAVE to write it even if it goes nowhere or keeps going off into other ideas.

Pre-slash: A story which is not strictly adult or strictly about a homosexual relationship but which introduces the possibilities, situations, and circumstances for one to occur.

Pre-series: A story which is about events occurring before the series began.

PWP: Porn Without Plot or Plot, What Plot? This is a piece of fan fiction that contains no other action than an overt sexual act between the characters.

Rating: Similar to ratings on movies, these ratings on fanfic or fanart are meant as a warning of how suitable the contents are for certain age groups. The G/PG/PG-13/R/NC-17 system is mainly derived from the American MPAA system for rating movies and may not always be understood by non-American readers. FF.N uses their own rating system, K, K+, T, and M. MA/NC-17 rated stories are no longer allowed on FF.N

RL: Real Life.

Round Robin: A fan fiction written by several authors taking turns each writing a part.

RPG: Role Playing Game. A game that involves people pretending to be their favorite characters.

R/R: Read & Review. A request from the author to not only read the fic, but also leave a comment/review/feedback.

Self-insertion: Meaning that the author has written her/him/itself into the fanfic. Not necessarily Mary Sue, but close.

Shipper: Relationshipper. This is someone who supports a particular pairing.

Sillyfic: A light piece of fan fiction which is ridiculous and meant to amuse. Sillyfics often break canon rules or get OOC.

Slash: Indicates a relationship/pairing. Refers to the “/” between names (Lois/Clark). Slash has become associated specifically with homosexual pairings, especially those that aren’t canon (Clark/Lex).

Songfic: A fan fiction which is based on a song, inspired by a song, or includes a song. Sometimes a song fic will not include the song, but will have the lyrics at the end for the reader to infer how those lyrics reflect the character and situations.

Song parody: A filk where the authors takes a (usually) popular song and rewrites the lyrics using themes/characters from a fandom for a laugh.

Spoof: An adaptation of any existing media, altered to give a comic effect. Very close to a parody. E.g. “Spaceballs was a spoof of Star Wars.”

Spoiler: Anything that gives away parts of episodes or movies. This is used more commonly in fandoms that still have new episodes airing.

Squick: Anything that upsets, disturbs, or grosses a person out is a squick.

UST: Unresolved Sexual Tension. This is a term referring to interactions between characters that  are attracted to one another but haven’t acted on their attraction for some reason.

Vignette: A piece of fan fiction which is centered on a characters feelings, emotions, experiences, reflections, and thoughts. Usually very short.

Vanilla: Referring to a type of sex which is ordinary male/female without any variations or kinks.

WAFF: Acronym for “Warm And Fuzzy Feelings”–means that the fanfic contains content that usually would produce this effect.

Warning: What it says. These are literally warnings that come before certain kinds of content that may be offensive to certain groups of people. Like slash, explicit sex scenes, nudity, swearing, alternative views, religious views and so on so forth. (It’s this thing about human nature and not being able to make everyone happy all at once . . . one never knows what will set someone else off.) Take warnings seriously—you never know when you might see things you never wanted to see/hear/read.

WHAM: Wrenching, Heart-Aching Moment. A warning that the story contains serious moments, isn’t just fluff or WAFF.

Whump: Physical and/or mental abuse laid on a character in a story.

FanFic Dictionaries (from which I probably borrowed some of this content):

KatSpace: Fannish Definitions