Saturday, August 29, 2009

Newsletter #00062

August 29-2009

Ok, so for this newsletter I’m going to talk about a subject I’ve wanted to write about for a while—fanfiction. Some of you I’m sure know about fanfiction and what it is, perhaps even having read it or wrote it, while I’m sure others of you are pretty much clueless about it. Since it happens to be one of my favorite things just about ever I decided I would tell all of you a little more about it and why it is so great. (Also, this is ridiculously long so feel free to skip around. I’d recommend reading the reasons to read fanfiction in the beginning. I also put a dictionary of fanfiction terms that you might or might not want to read and finally I put the different ships I read and which fandoms they are from. And yes, I will define ship and fandom for you in a moment.)

First things first. What is fanfiction?

Fanfiction is a work of writing using characters from an original novel, TV show, movie, video game, etc. Every book, TV show, movie or whatever it may be and their fans are referred to as a fandom. For example, according to Wikipedia “The Harry Potter fandom is a large international and informal community drawn together by J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The fandom works through the use of many different forms of media, including web sites, fan fiction, podcasts, fan art and songvids.”

Ok, so you’re probably thinking, sounds great and all, but why would I want to read fanfiction?

Fanfiction is great for a number of reasons. First of all, if you are a fan of a certain book, for example Harry Potter, fanfiction lets you continue reading about characters you already know and love in a variety of different settings. Fanfiction writing generally encompasses all sorts of genres, despite the original genre the author intended.

A big part of fanfiction is shipping. I will get to some other fanfiction terms later, but this is such an important one that I decided to mention it now. Shipping is presumably a term derived from the word relationship and involves the reader or writer pairing two characters together romantically. With such a large portion of fanfiction involving romance in their stories, most readers want to know before they read a story what ship is involved in the story. Ships that occur within an author’s original universe are known as canon ships.

Shipping is a large reason that I enjoy fanfiction. One of the fandoms I am a part of is the Harry Potter fandom. If you’ve ever read Harry Potter you know that canon (or real) relationships from the books would be Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, James/Lily etc. Although I like James and Lily as a pairing I am not such a Harry/Ginny or Ron/Hermione fan. When I read fanfiction I usually read Draco/Hermione, Ginny/Draco or Albus Severus/Scorpius fanfiction. (Albus Severus is Harry’s son and Scorpius is Draco’s son). Even though J.K. Rowling never wrote these relationships in her books, fanfiction allows me to read stories with these pairings in them.

Another great thing about fanfiction is the length of stories. Most times when you buy a novel it is at least 50,000 and sometimes upward of 100,000 or more words. In the fanfiction world stories can be any length the author chooses. Drabbles (according to Wikipedia) are stories exactly 100 words in length, although myself, and many others, refer to stories fewer than 1,000 words as drabbles. From there, I’ve read stories in varying lengths. Sometimes a few thousand words are all that is needed to tell a short story. I’ve also read stories ranging in the 30,000s and 40,000s (too short in real life to be considered a novel) and stories that seriously are longer than the longest books, upwards of 200,000 and 300,000 words. Just last night in fact I read an Albus Severus/Scorpius fic that was 95 chapters and over 140,000 words. That’s basically a really long book if it were a published book.

Another great thing about fanfiction is that it allows you to read multiple stories with the same characters, and even better, once you find a favorite fanfiction author or multiple authors, most tend to write more than one story with the same characters. I know I have certain authors whose writing I love and who have written many stories with the same characters.

You’re probably thinking that fanfiction writing can’t be all that great. After all, a true writer would just use their own characters and go get published or something right?


Although there are a lot of really bad fanfiction stories out there, there are a ton of great ones too. Most fanfiction writers do write original fiction as well and I have heard of a good deal of published authors who either wrote fanfiction in the past or still do it for fun on the side. In fact, I’ve read a ton of novel-length fanfiction with writing as good as, or better than in some published novels I’ve read.

The best part of fanfiction though is probably that it is free and can be read online. While fanfiction can be found in a variety of places, the website is a big site for almost any genre. Of course, stories on this website aren’t screened before they are posted so there are a lot of bad quality fics on the site. Livejournal communities are another big place to find fanfiction stories and are usually devoted to one specific fandom or ship. Other independent websites also host large communities of fanfiction writers. One important thing to note about though is that they don’t allow RPF (real person fiction) or fics with explicit content.

Now that you know a bit more about fanfiction you might be thinking about trying it out and seeing if you like it. But you probably don’t know where to start, or all the terms associated with it, which can make your first foray into fanfiction a little difficult. (Wow, lots of alliteration there). Anyways, to help you out I’m going to compile a list of fanfiction terms and their definitions. (If you happen to read or write fanfiction and want to contribute to this list or argue one of my definitions feel free to post in the comments)

Canon- Information that either comes directly from a specific work, or has been stated by the author to be factual. Ex. That Harry has a son named James is a canon statement.
Fanon- Generally the opposite of something known to be canon. A fact that is fanon is something that does not come from the author’s original universe or has been stated by the author to be false. Ex. Dramione, otherwise known as the ship involving Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger is a fanon ship since it doesn’t happen in the Harry Potter novels.
Ship, Shipping, Shippers- A ship is a relationship between two characters, usually shown by putting a slash between two characters names (Draco/Ginny) or by combining their names in a way that is specific to that ship. (Kris Allen/Adam Lambert is collectively referred to as Kradam) Shipping is the act of pairing characters together in a relationship and a shipper is a person who ships two characters.
Slash and Femslash- stories involving gay couples. Generally slash refers to male/male stories but can be female as well. Femslash (or femmeslash) is the term sometimes used for female/female stories. (I know other terms are used in Manga/anime but I don’t read those so I can’t really tell you what they are)
Het- stories with heterosexual couples.
IC and OOC- stands for in character and out of character. Usually refers to how a specific character or characters are acting in relation to how they are normally perceived as being.
AU- alternate universe. AU stories are stories with major changes to canon facts, such as setting or time changes, bringing back characters that are dead in the canon world or making good characters evil.
Gen- a genre of fanfiction that is short for general. Usually denotes stories with minor emphasis on romance or stories that can’t fit into one specific genre.
Parody or Badfic- stories that are usually written on purpose by an author. They are meant to be funny and usually incorporate cliché plot points.
Angst- stories where one or more characters suffer torment of some kind, usually emotional angst.
Beta reader, Beta read- a beta reader is like an editor. They read an author’s stories and help correct grammar, spelling, etc. They might also help an author with plot points and characterizations.
Crossover- fiction that involves characters from multiple universes combined in one story.
Fluff- stories with very little substance or plot.
PWP- Porn Without Plot or Plot? What Plot? Seems pretty self-explanatory to me.
Future-fic- again, rather self-explanatory. Takes characters and writes about them far into the future.
Mary Sue- an original character introduced into a fanfiction by an author that is basically the “perfect” character. They tend to be disliked by readers because they tend to be flawless and un-realistic characters. Not all original characters are considered Mary Sues however.
MPREG- a type of story involving male pregnancy. Obviously this can’t happen in real life but I guess some people enjoy reading MPREG stories. I however, am not among them.
OTP- One True Pairing. Usually a reader/writers favorite ship within a fandom.
RPF- Real Person Fic. Stories involving real people, usually actors or other celebrities. Because certain websites refuse to post these types of stories ( for example) they are usually found in livejournal communities, among other places.
One-shot- a story that is told in one go as opposed to a multi-chaptered fic, with obviously, multiple chapters to it.
Smut- like PWP, these stories usually involve just sex w/out a plot.
Squick and Kink- Squick- something in a story that could potentially be uncomfortable/offensive to a readers. Stories with potential squicks should always have warnings. Kink- something in a story that may appeal to/turn on a specific reader. Squicks and Kinks are generally related b/c one person’s squick may be a kink to another reader.
WIP- work in progress. Refers to a story that is not yet completed by an author.
Non-Con- non-consensual sex (rape) w/in a story. Should always be posted as a warning to readers.
A/N- author’s note. Sometimes placed before or after a story and is a personal note from an author to their readers.
Songfic- stories that are written with a specific song as inspiration. May contain the lyrics to the song within the story.

Ratings: Fanfiction stories are usually given ratings. The system of ratings varies between sites. Livejournal communities tend to use the MPAA movie rating system (G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17) to rate stories. Other places like use a system that is basically the same except that it goes K, K+, T, M and then on some other sites X or some other equivalent for NC-17.

Anyways, I’ve basically written all I can think of right now for fanfiction. If you actually read this entire thing I’ll be surprised, but I wrote it mostly to encourage people to try fanfiction and as a reference tool of sorts for if you do.

Before I finish this off I thought I’d share the pairings I read in fanfiction. I know some of you probably read fanfiction so you might be interested in this. Or you know, I might be the only one interested in which case I still really don’t care b/c I’m going to tell you anyways, lol.

The main fandoms I read are Harry Potter, Avatar and American Idol (which obviously involves real person fiction which I realize isn’t for everyone). I also want to start reading fics in the Torchwood universe but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. (Torchwood is an AMAZING British sci-fi show. Watch it!!!!!)

Ships I read:

Harry Potter:
1) Draco/Hermione- One of my OTPs for this fandom
2) Draco/Ginny (less often than Draco/Hermione)
3) Albus Severus/Scorpius (next-gen fic)- another of my OTPs
4) Lily/ James

I also am going to try and get into the pairings Harry/Draco and Remus/Severus. My new favorite type of fanfiction is slash, so I have been reading a lot more of it lately.

1) Zuko/Katara- OTP. This is about the only main pairing I will read for this universe but I also don’t mind Aang/Toph when it comes up in stories.

American Idol:
1) Kris Allen/Adam Lambert

1) Jack/Ianto- OTP. Just about the only canon ship that I ship. And its slash! Just another reason I love this show so much.
2) I probably wouldn’t read it as fanfiction but I also like Tosh/Owen, Gwen/Owen and Gwen/Rhys (other reasons I love this show. All of these pairings have at one point or another been canon.) Also I can't forget Jack/Jack and Jack/Captain John

Yeah, so that’s basically it for me. I do ship a variety of other ships in different fandoms, but I haven’t really read any fanfiction for them (yet). If you have any questions about anything feel free to comment!

And thanks for reading! (If you didn’t read this entire thing I don’t blame you) Also, if you do read/write fanfiction please let me know! I like talking to other fanfic readers.

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