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Common terms used in fanfiction

Alternate Universe: Also known as AU. A fanfiction that has been written in an alternate universe means that, although the author uses the characters of a series, the storyline is different.
An example of alternate universe: Edward Elric has lost his arm and leg in a car accident instead of during his attempt to perform human transmutation.

Crossover: A crossover means two or more series are used when writing a fanfiction. The intention is often to create a parody, though this is not necessary.
An example of crossover: Edward and Alphonse Elric are searching for the Philosopher's Stone, as well as Harry Potter and his two friends. The two groups can work together, or view it as a contest of who gets to the Philosopher's Stone first.

Disclaimer: A necessary addition when one is writing fanfiction or drawing fanart. A disclaimer must always refer to the original creators of the series, book, film or game you have based your fanfiction on.

Fanfiction: Perhaps the most used term in this particularly world, which needs therefore an explanation as well. A fanfiction is a story, based upon an already existing story. It can be an extension, rewriting or own invention of a book, film, series or game. A fanfiction also always needs a disclaimer, since characters or plots will be used which are not your own inventions. Everything which can be found here will serve as a fine example for the definition 'fanfiction'.

Genre: The genre determines what kind of fanfiction you are going to read. It is a style of literature. The many different genres are listed below. Genres are taken from FanFiction and MediaMiner.
          * Action: A fanfiction falls under 'action' when there are a lot of exciting events in the story. It usually involves many fighting scenes, where the hero has to fight for his life.
          * Adventure: An unusual, exciting or dangerous experience, journey or series of events. This genre often goes together with 'action', since both genres are very much alike.
          * Angst: 'Angst' is often used to describe fanfictions where the main characters encounter problems with life. As the dictionary states: a feeling of anxiety and worry about a situation, or about your life. E.g. Winry has fallen in love with Edward, only he doesn't notice her and there are many problems, because he doesn't want to say anything about his mission is a good example of 'angst'.
          * Comedy: A genre very close to 'parody' and 'humor'. A 'comedy' is often hilarious and written with the intention to make people laugh. The ending of a 'comedy' is also often a happy ending. The complete opposite of 'comedy' is 'tragedy'.
          * Cyberpunk: A not so known genre, which is usually set in either a different dimension or in the future. It reflects a society, which doesn't necessarily have to be good. Most of the people are poor and only a fraction of the people is actually wealthy. An example of 'cyberpunk' is the planet Tatooine in Star Wars, where Anakin grew up.
          * Drama: A play considered as literature, according to the dictionary. It is, however, also used to describe a fanfiction in which many dramatic events happen, like the death of a person or a sudden, unsuspected and unpleasant truth, which often leaves the main character distracted behind.
          * Fantasy: 'Fantasy' is used when the fanfiction takes place in an imaginary world, where magic, fairies and demons play a great role. Society is often based on the Middle Ages, with nobles, thieves, commoners and the like, though this is not always necessary. One of the greatest fantasy authors is J.R.R. Tolkien and his trilogy "The Lord of the Rings".
          * Hentai: A Japanese term, meaning 'abnormal', although most people link it with sexual activities. This is not, however, completely true. Although 'hentai' deals with sexual activities as well, it can also mean extreme activities like dismemberment and the use of a lot of blood. Most of those stories are not suitable for children.
          * Horror: 'Horror' is meant to frighten people. It contains murder, conspiracy, often ghosts and other supernatural creatures like zombies and vampires, and the main characters live in constant fear. A term close to 'horror' is 'thriller', although 'horror' contains more blood and massacre than 'thriller'.
          * Humor: Meant to be humorous, funny and making people laugh. It is written to amuse people and it contains many situations which are silly and hilarious. A genre close to 'comedy' and 'parody'.
          * Mecha: A Japanese term used to describe a story containing huge robots. Those robots often contain one person and that person controls the whole robot. Small robots usually don't count as 'mecha'.
          * Mystery: A fanfiction containing crimes or strange events, which will be explained at the end only. The reader might get a hint or two of what is really going on, but is mostly kept ignorant of the true events and reality.
          * Occult: 'Occult' means dealing with powers that cannot be explained by reason or power, e.g. magical powers and witchcraft. Most of the time, the powers are evil and often refer to connections with the devil and satanism. This is not, however, necessary. 'Occult' in term can also be good witchcraft, like powers used to heal people. 'Occult' deals with the unknown powers. Alchemy, however, as used in FullMetal Alchemist, is not an occult power, since it is a scientific study and alchemists are looked upon as scientists.
          * Parody: A term close to 'humor' and 'comedy', with the only difference that a 'parody' is meant to ridicule a certain story. It is often a copy of the true story, only the characters cannot be taken seriously and it is meant to make people laugh. When it is used to critise on something, particularly concerning politics, it is also called a 'satire'.
          * Post-apocalyptic: The story takes place after the world has faced severe damage and near destruction. Life is often miserable and people are wary towards each other. It can be set in a futuristic world, though it is also possible to let it take place in the nowadays' world.
          * Psychological: Dealing with the human mind and trying to make the reader think about certain questions. (open for a better explanation)
          * Romance: A story of love affairs between people, either short or long. It can be built up from the beginning or it is already there. Most love stories can be put under 'romance'.
          * Science fiction: Set in a futuristic world, although it can be also in this world. Starships, pods, aliens and high-technology are usually present. As the name 'science fiction' already implies, this genre deals with scientific equipment and has little trust or believe in powers like magic.
          * Spiritual: OFten connected with the human spirit and religion. 'Spiritual' deals with gods and beliefs of all kinds of religions, though the Bible is the most used.
          * Supernatural: That which cannot be explained by the laws of nature and often dealing with gods and magical powers. Werewolves, vampires, wandering spirits and the like fall under supernatural.
          * Suspense: A term close to 'angst'. It deals with feelings of worry or excitement at the prospect that something is going to happen or someone is going to bring in news, although it is not yet known what it is or what it is going to be.
          * Thriller: 'Thrillers' are often stories with a lot of excitement, caused by crime or spying. It is close to 'horror', although a thriller has less gore and can be even completely without blood.
          * Tragedy: A very sad situation or event, which often ends with the death of the main character. In contrary to 'comedy', a 'tragedy' is not written to make people laughing, but more to bring tears in their eyes.

Lemon: A perhaps less used term, close the word 'hentai', although 'lemon' deals with sexual activities only. They are often erotic and are not suitable for children aged younger than 18. The erotic part is often described into detail, which some find pleasant to read and makes other feel uncomfortable. Any fanfiction containing lemon will be marked with a warning, so no one will stumble into something he is not prepared to read.

Mary Sue: A term used to describe a fanfiction where the OC is the absolute center of the story. Often, everyone is in love with the OC or they act out of character when they are near the OC. A Mary Sue written with that purpose can be quite fun, though the experience is that most OC are absolutely dreadful for the reader and are actually only fun for the author self. Most authors do wisely to avoid writing a Mary Sue.

Mature Content: A rating used on deviantart to determine if a certain story or picture is suitable for children under a certain age. Usually, when a story or picture contains nudity or if it falls under erotic, it is necessary to use the Mature Content. Mature Content can be compared to the ratings R and NC-17 of other sites.

OC: An abbreviation of Own Character. Some authors like to come up with their own characters, merging them within the existing world of a series. There is a possibility of writing a Mary Sue with an OC, since it disrupts the usual events and the OC is often invented to pair up with one of the main characters. This is one of the reasons why very few people write with an OC. If you practise, however, you will be able to avoid most of the traps that are usually associated with Mary Sues. OCs can be quite fun, if one has worked them out rather well.

One-shot fiction: A one-shot fiction means the fanfiction is written as one piece. It has no chapters, epilogues or prologues and are often quite short, although this is not necessary. A one-shot fiction has the introduction, the events and the conclusion all in one piece.

OOC: Abbreviation of Out Of Character. Sometimes it is obvious that a character does not behave in the way he usually behaves, like when Roy Mustang would suddenly act without his usual arrogance or superior smirks and become meek and obedient. Fanfictions in which something like that happens, are OOC. Small things, like letting two people fall in love with each other, do not fall under OOC, no matter who the two people are.

Rating: Rating is used as a measurement to determine if certain people are allowed to read certain fanfictions. There are some fanfictions which children shouldn't read and the author can warn them by placing a rating. On deviantart, the only rating is 'Mature Content' (see Mature Content). Other sites, however, use the rating system used for films. You should always rate to your own opinion, although it is better to give a story a higher rating than a lower rating.
          * G: stands for General and means that everyone, no matter how old he is, can read the story. Such fanfictions contain almost no violence or terms of abuse and there is no mention of drugs or sexual activities.
          * PG: Parental Guide is recommended. There are some scenes which might be inappropriate for children to read. There is some violence or terms of abuse and possible a hint of nudity. There is, however, no mention of drugs.
          * PG-13: Not recommendable to children under the age of 13. If they do wish to read the fanfiction, they have to ask for permission of their parents. In such fanfiction, violence and terms of abuse are clearly present, there is a bit more nudity and even a hint of sexual activity and there might be some mention of drugs.
          * R: Abbreviation of Restricted. Children aged 16 or younger are not allowed to read this, unless their parents give them their permission. R-rated fanfictions contain violence, terms of abuse, drugs and sexual activity, although this is not too graphic written. It falls under Mature Content on deviantart.
          * NC-17: Forbidden for everyone aged 17 or younger (so readers have to be 18+). Graphic description of violence and sexual activities, terms of abuse and drugs. It falls under Mature Content on deviantart.

Senna Marie: Senna Marie looks very much like a Mary Sue, with the only difference that a Senna Marie is even worse. Whereas the Mary Sue sometimes can be fun to read, this is impossible for the Senna Marie. An OC who is a Senna Marie comes close to a goddess (or god, when it is a man), who is perfect, can seduce every man with a simple smile, becomes friends with every woman, has access to all sorts of magic, is the main heroine of the story and she can't possibly die. If she accidently dies, the whole universe mourns over her death. She can't do anything wrong, and even if she does, everyone is prepared to forgive her immediately. Any author ought to avoid writing a Senna Marie whenever possible, since it is considered the worst form of fanfictions one can ever write.

Shoujo-ai: A Japanese term, used to describe the love between two females. In the fanfiction, there is no sexual activity present, just a relationship between two girls that goes further than the usual friendship. Kisses, cuddling and dating is allowed. It is a wise decision to warn the reader when you are writing a shoujo-ai, since not everyone prefers such a couple. The word shoujo-ai can be literary translated as girls-love. Pairing is thus girl x girl.

Shounen-ai: A Japanese term, used to describe the love between to males. In fanfiction, there is no sexual activity present, only a relationship between two boys that goes further than the usual friendship. Kisses, cuddling and dating are often present, though it doesn't go any further (or at least that has not been written down). It is a wise decision to warn the reader of shounen-ai, since not everyone prefers the couple boy x boy. Shounen-ai can be literary translated as boys-love.

Yaoi: A Japanese term, used to describe a deep relationship between two males. Unlike shounen-ai, the couple does have sex together and the rating of such fanfictions are often R or NC-17. It is recommended to warn the reader of yaoi, since not everyone likes to read that or do not agree on the chosen couple. Pairing is always boy x boy.

Yuri: A Japanese term, used to describe a deep relationship between two females. Unlike shoujo-ai, the couple does have sex together and the rating of such fanfictions are often R or NC-17. It is recommended to warn the reader of yuri, since not everyone approves such relationships or the detailed description of sex scenes that goes with yuri. Pairing is always girl x girl.
I have no idea if this is necessary or if there are similar list produced, but I've found out that there are many misunderstandings of certain terms used frequently in fanfiction. I hope this is a bit understandable, most of it was worked out late at night... and my brains usually don't work at night.

Anyway, most of them are worked out with a dictionary, though there are also many terms which cannot be found in a dictionary. So if you think you have a better description, feel free to say that. I'm not perfect, so I can use every help given. ^^

Also, if you come across a term you don't know, and it isn't listed below, I'd be very happy if you mentioned it. I tried to come up with the most common terms, but I don't know all of them.

I hope this is of some use. ^^
Add a Comment:
Gagajolie123 Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you very much :3 can you do more like these example like a AU explinations.
Sleazinator Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2013   General Artist
Thank you for defining the definition of shounen-ai and yaoi. I`m well aware of the definition of those two terms. I`ve read fanfictions where the author obviously didn`t know that.
ulyferal Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
This is the most concise list I've ever seen. Wish I'd seen it before I started writing.

I do have a few questions/objections to some of them though.

I've been told by a reputable author that my style of writing is called EROTICA. It is a specific genre though it could be considered a sub genre. My story Beyond the Shadow of the Moon is a Fantasy with a sub genre of erotica (containing slash and MPREG).

Second, everywhere else I post my stories, SLASH is used not Yaoi to describe m/m. I only recently learned this was Japanese for what I tend to write but I don't like anime and refuse to use that term.

Thirdly, a lot of my fics are MPREG and you make no mention of that term so does that mean I shouldn't post that here? I do have my stuff carefully rated properly with plenty of warnings.

Fourth, I've never heard the term 'Lemon' used to describe sexual content. EXPLICIT Sex is what I've seen used or "Mature" or "NC-17". I've used all three at one time or another.
silent-winds13 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2009  Student
how do you pronounce "angst"? Ive heard it many different ways
LucasVN Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2009
It's pronounced as if it were spelled:

waterChuck Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2008
thank you. I know most of these terms already but it was really nice to learn new ones like Shoujo-ai. It also cleared up a definition of hentai for me. Thanks a bunch! ^^
sizliz Featured By Owner May 24, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Haha thank you i could really need that genre guide there :D
anwise-gamgee Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2005
At last I understand everything ! It's hard to be French and post English fanfic! Thanks !
sizliz Featured By Owner May 24, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah i know what you mean, I'm danish and has the same problem :P
Rhythm-Wily Featured By Owner May 8, 2005
I think it's great that you take the time to list these terms! Most of the time it's really left up to people to pick up and figure out for themselfs. And THANK YOU for giving me the best definition for the differance between yaoi and Shounen-ai. I have asked a few times from different people the difference and it is often hard for them to explain...I find myself having trouble defining it...Mostly I will say it's like "soft yaoi" or "G-rated yaoi" Oh, and kudos for diferentiating "humour""comedy" and "parody" ALOT of people mix those up.

Senna Marie and Mary Sue are terms I've never heard of ever! So I learned something new! But are those two ONLY in terms of "love" or can they also be applied to just likeability/popularity. Like I've seen fanfics where like EVERY character pretty much thinks the OC is just amazing and wondoerful but not in a romantic sense. And yeah...I've seen Senna Marie's in alot of IFFs and group RPs too...Though they usually get called "Godmoders...>.>" Though I may be mislabeling...

Uhm...Just a few things I wanna critique or add...^^; First off I think you need to correct the description of "G rating":" G: stands for General and means that everyone, no matter how old he is, can read the story. " It should be "no matter how young he is" I think you should ad Original as the alternate key in the abreviation for OC...Just cause I've heard Own/Original Character (OC) used interchangably ALOT and they essentially mean the same thing. That and I think the "General" category should be added...Just because I think some people think "general" HAS to encompass all genres...Which is not true.
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