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Fanfiction is fiction written by fans about characters and/or settings created by someone else for a TV series, movie, book, comic, video game, and so forth. Basically, if you didn't create it, but you're writing about it, and it wasn't commissioned by the original creator (or rights holder), it is fanfiction. Fanfiction writers use the characters and situations from these works to develop their own personal and, sometimes, preferred views of the story.

A fanfiction story is called a fanfic or fic for short.

History of Fanfiction[]

It is believed that as long as there have been stories, there has been fanfiction. A major component of the oral tradition is the addition of new stories and details from telling to telling, and it is impossible to separate certain myths and legends from the details fans of said stories added long after their first conception.

The modern phenomenon of fanfiction as an expression of fandom, however, was popularized and defined via the Star Trek fandom and fanzines published in the 1960s.

In 1998, Fanfiction.net came online. At the time of its initial creation, it accepted any sort of writing, original or fanfiction. It has since separated its original fiction section into [www.fictionpress.com another website] and banned several sub-genres, including explicitly sexual stories, real people fiction, and stories featuring song lyrics. The ability to self-publish fanfiction at a common archive like Fanfiction.net, and the ability to review the stories directly on the site, became popular quite quickly. Fanfiction.net now hosts millions of stories in dozens of languages, and is widely considered the largest and most popular fanfiction archive online. It is also considered one of the worst (partly due to the lack of any real editorial controls), hence its nickname The Pit of Voles and the need for the PPC.

Classification of Fanfiction[]

See also Category:Fanfic Classifications

Fanfiction can be classified by format, story type, and quality.

By Format[]

Fanfiction is available in several different formats. The most common is the third-person narrative, although these could be further distinguished according to length. Chaptered fic is written in a similar manner to traditional serial stories, with each chapter released separately as it is finished (though there are a few authors that first finish the entire story before they start releasing the chapters at regular intervals). Depending on the author, stories may take anything from a day, to several months, to even years between updates.

Single-chapter stories of any length are usually referred to as one-shots. Stories with two chapters are sometimes called two-shots. There are various terms for different lengths and they are sometimes used interchangeably. These include flashfic for stories under 500 words, and short-short for stories between 500 and 1,000 words. The term ficlet is also commonly used for stories under approximately 1,000 words.

A drabble is traditionally a story of exactly 100 words in length. A proper drabble is often a short scene or idea that does not tell an entire story. It is simple a refection of a moment in time. A double drabble is a story of exactly 200 words. Many drabbles are humorous in nature. A lot of the time the term drabble is also used for stories that are considerably longer than 100 words.

Fanfiction is occasionally written in script format, although these are banned from Fanfiction.net. There are several sub-genres of scriptfic. Some are written in the style of screenplays, while others are chatfics, stories that are written like an instant messaging or chatroom conversation between characters. Chatfics are somewhat similar in this sense to an epistolary novel, though usually much shorter and far, far worse in quality as a result of the chatfic often being written by a fanbrat.

Related to the above is the RP fic, a story based on a role-play. The quality of these varies depending on how much effort is given to turning the transcript into a working narrative.

Another format of fanfiction is the songfic, wherein authors take the lyrics of a song and, with the song as inspiration, construct a piece of writing around the lyrics. Usually, this is done by quoting lines of the lyrics in order and inserting original writing in-between (some of the worst authors skip the inserting bit).

By Type[]

Fanfiction is written for many different reasons. Though all of these reasons could be filed under the heading "What if I took these characters and put them in that situation?", they are subdivided into the following:

Missing scene
In the original story, a certain situation is not elaborated on. For instance, in the New Who episode "Blink," the Doctor and Martha spend some time in 1969, but it is never told in the episode how they get there. The author explores what could have happened.
Missing adventure
Some authors prefer to write stories that have the taste of a canon adventure, do not contradict canon in any way, and could seamlessly fit into the canon... at least until a later canon occurrence retroactively contradicts that story and in one blow turns it into an AU story (see below). That is the risk taken by any author working with a canon that is still under development (i.e. the series is still in production). Sometimes these stories can have small additions tacked on to the canon (i.e., more character development for a flat and minor character, or an undescribed setting put into more detail), which may also be grounds for the fic to be classified as an AU.
Alternate universe
As the name says, this type of fic explores the possibilities of an alternate universe, AU for short. There are two main possibilities here:
  • One is a "what if" story that explore the possibilities unlocked by an alteration of the canon storyline. Done with respect, this can be an exciting exploration into how important the canon story is and how much it can change if even the smallest detail is altered or revealed. Unfortunately, this plot type is sometimes written with revisionism in mind, and in badfic, outright disrespect for canon events in favor of the author's opinions of how things should have happened.
  • The other form is a "displacement" AU, where all the canon characters suddenly take up different roles in a different setting. For example, stories in which all of the canon characters are in high school and are classmates, or stories in which canon characters are suddenly different species entirely. There are few good examples of these fanfics; many of their plots are derivative and eerily similar. High school fics are so snore-coaxingly alike that they can even undergo Ficverse Fusion because reading some of them can almost feel like reading the same story over and over.

    This is not to say that this kind of AU is always bad: if characters are kept true to their canon characterization, it has the potential to be a good story like any other. Stargate SG-1 actually did an entire episode devoted to this idea ("The Changeling," Season 6, Episode 19), and pulled it off pretty well. Stargate Atlantis did much the same in the episode "Vegas," wherein John Sheppard was a homicide detective, and not associated with the Stargate Program at all. Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis fics are rife with AUs like this.
In a crossover, characters from two different fandoms are brought together for a mutual adventure. For different types of crossover, see the main article about crossover fics.
ROM Hack
A story produced by modifying the source code of a canon installment of a video game franchise. It can be any of the types of written fanfiction.
A story that has a Mary Sue in it. Although it distinctly follows trends and can be recognized as its own type of fic, authors rarely intend to create a Suefic. For more information, see Suefic.

By Quality[]

Let's face it: some fanfics are better than others. The PPC is based on this concept.

  • Goodfic: A fanfic that is acceptable in all major aspects.
    • Legendary Goodfic: A goodfic that is particularly well-known and celebrated by the PPC.
  • Badfic: A poorly written fanfic.
    • Bleepfic: A particularly terrible badfic.
    • Legendary Badfic: A particularly terrible badfic that is well-known and scorned by the PPC.

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