fanficable's Guide to Basic Fanfiction Terms

Confused by fanfic jargon? Here are a few key words and phrases to help you navigate the world of digital reading.

A/N (Author's Note)

A note written to the reader from the author.

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AR (Alternate Reality)

Indicates a story that takes place in a universe where a few key details are changed from the original canon. An alternate reality may be part of a larger canon universe.

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AU (Alternate Universe)

Indicates that the story uses known characters in a different, non-canon universe that is mostly or entirely original.

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Book Hangover

The feeling of emotional exhaustion or withdrawal after finishing reading a book.

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Canon

An official, accepted universe within which a fandom exists.

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DNF (Did Not Finish)

Shorthand used to describe a book or story that someone stopped reading part way through, usually due to loss of interest.

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ER (Established Relationship)

Describes a story in which the main characters begin the story already involved in a relationship with each other.

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Enemies to Lovers

A romance storyline in which the love interests start off hating each other and eventually fall in love.

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FTB (Fade to Black)

Describes a sex scene that is not detailed on the page, but rather is alluded to before cutting short of showing explicit content.

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Fake Relationship

A romantic plotline in which the love interests agree to pretend to be in a relationship together, and through this arrangement usually end up falling in love.

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Forbidden Love

Describes the relationship dynamic between love interests whose circumstances make their romantic relationship socially unacceptable. (Eg. step-siblings, co-workers, teacher/student relationships, sibling's friends, cheating)

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Forced Proximity

A romance trope in which the plot requires the two love interests to spend a lot of time together.

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Friends to Lovers

A storyline featuring a romantic relationship between a couple than begins as platonic friends.

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HEA (Happy Ever After)

A story ending (usually of a romance) that features the main couple in a permanent, committed relationship. This often includes marriage or having children.

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HFN (Happy For Now)

A story ending in which the main couple ends up together, but (unlike a HEA ending) are not necessarily in a permanent relationship.

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Lemon

A story that contains graphic sexual depictions, often just for their own sake.

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M/F, M/M, or F/F

Indicates the genders involved in a story's primary relationship, with M meaning "male" and F meaning "female." M/F describing male-female relationships, M/M for male-male, and F/F for male-female.

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MC (Main Character)

The central character that the story focuses on. First-person stories are almost always written from the perspective of this character.

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Manic Pixie Dreamgirl

A quirky female character whose spirited personality serves to motivate and inspire the journey of the male protagonist.

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Mary Sue

An overly sweet and innocent female character archetype, usually one who is unrealistically perfect and without flaws.

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OC (Original Character)

An entirely new, non-canon character created by the author.

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OTP (One True Pairing)

A couple who you root for to end up together, especially in stories where there are multiple possible love interests.

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Omegaverse

A sub-genre of werewolf romance that features a hierarchy with Alphas as the ruling class and Omegas as a subservient or weaker class. Often features elements of dominance and submission and usually skews toward male/male pairings.

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Oneshot

A short (often just one-chapter) story with no planned additions or sequels.

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POV (Point of View)

The perspective through which a story or section of a story is written. "POV Switching" involves changing between the first-person perspective of more than one character.

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PWP (Porn With Plot)

A story made up mostly or entirely of sexual content. Ie. Erotica.

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RPF (Real Person Fiction)

A genre of fan fiction that features real people, usually celebrities, instead of fictional characters.

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Secret Billionaire

A common story trope in which a main character lives an ordinary life but is actually hiding their status as a billionaire.

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Shipping

The act of avidly supporting particular characters in a romantic pairing with each other.

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Slash Fiction

Fan fiction that puts two same-sex characters in a romantic pairing together.

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Slow Burn

A romantic story in which the primary couple takes a while to get together.

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Smut

Scenes describing explicit sexual encounters. This term is sometimes used to describe stories whose content is mostly or primarily sexual.

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TBR (To Be Read)

Describes a book that is on one's list to read in the future, but has yet to be read.

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TSTL (Too Stupid to Live)

A shorthand description of characters who make foolish, obviously unwise decisions that serve only to move the plot forward.

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Trope

A common theme or plot device used in media. “Fake dating” and the idea of a “chosen one” are two popular examples.

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Y/N (Your Name)

Denotes where the reader should imagine their own name written in to the story.

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Yandere

A character (usually female) who is obsessively in love with someone to the point of using extreme methods or violence to win the object of their affections.

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