Fan Fiction Terms
Alternate Universe: Imagine a universe slightly different from ours... All fictional settings and the variants thereof are said to take place in alternate universes, as if they're actually real but can't be seen or reached except by the imagination -- or by crossovers. ;) Sometimes this term is shortened to AU or A/U, and it is often the subject of debate in comparison to alternate realities.
Angst: Refers to the emotional wounds suffered and/or borne by a character, especially if they spend pages moaning about their miserable life in great detail. Can add intensity to a story or turn it into one big long pityparty. Warning: angst can be addictive!
Canon: An adjective referring to a character, event, plotline, etc. which happened "for real" -- the actual professional source material.
Challenge fic: Any story written as the result of a challenge.
Crackfic: A fanfic whose concept is so out there, one wonders what the author was snorting when they wrote. Sometimes deliberate, sometimes just WTF?
Darkfic: A story involving a large amount of death/pain/trauma being inflicted on the characters, often to force out characterization. To quote Elsa Bibat's essay "A Long Strange Walk": "Those who really don't like seeing their favorite characters slaughtered or emotionally and mentally scarred for life are advised not to read anything with a [DARK] tag or warning." In anime/manga a darkfic is especially a tale from a series otherwise considered fairly "light" or comedic, and is also called a shockfic.
Elricest: Slash featuring Alphonse and Edward, the main-character brothers of Full Metal Alchemist, who share the surname "Elric." This scenario requires the younger brother to be restored to human form, and thus this subgenre tends to be heavy on fluff and angst.
Fluff: Lighthearted, inconsequential. A fluff fic is somewhat like a sillyfic, but more cute than humorous -- it's generally short and sweet. In some fandoms, stories of this type are jokingly called "hhjj" (happy-happy-joy-joy).
Het: Short for "heterosexual" -- denotes fanfic depicting a romantic or sexual relationship between opposite genders.
Lemon: A fic containing gratuitous sex; some sources say it comes from the pornographic "Cream Lemon" anime series.
Lime: A fanfic involving non-explicit sexual situations, a tasteful "fade to black."
Mpreg: Describes a story involving male pregnancy -- found mostly in slash, but has not shown up in comicslash yet. This fairly rare term is not always greeted with open arms.
noncon, non-con: Non-consensual sexual act. The jury is still out on the shades of meaning here -- some say non-con is just another word for rape, while others see the two terms as subtly different.
NSFW: Not Safe For Work -- denotes material, usually pornographic, that would not be safe to view on an office/school computer. Click at your own risk.
NWS: Not Work Safe -- denotes material, usually pornographic, that would not be safe to view on an office/school computer. Click at your own risk.
One True Pairing: The belief that a given fandom only contains one "real" couple, and that any other 'shipping is preposterous. Usually abbreviated to OTP and nowadays often used humorously. An OTP with three members is an OT3.
Out of character: For a fictional creature, acting in a manner not consistent with his/her/its established personality. This can be on purpose for a plot device or, more often, merely due to bad acting/writing. Often abbreviated to OOC or ooc.
Pairing: Any combination of characters who are romantically and/or sexually involved, either from established continuity or (more likely) desired together by fans. Very rarely, a fanfic "pairing" can be a threesome or more; however, trios (or more) where those involved are not all interested in each other (ie. Logan and Cyclops vying for Jean's attentions) are referred to as triangles. Some writers are fanatical about their favorite pairings, snubbing or actively flaming anyone who dares to disagree.
POV: Point Of View -- specifically in fanfic, a type of story told first-person from a character's point of view
PWP: "Plot? What Plot?" or "Porn Without Plot" -- the nickname for a story which was written purely for the sake of creating pointless sexual escapades.
Ratings: An author- or archivist-applied system which lets readers know what they're in for before they start reading a story. Not all archives or mailing lists require ratings, but most of the good ones do -- ratings are increasingly becoming a solid component of good fanfic etiquette, and at very least authors are expected to warn readers if a story contains explicit adult content. Using the American movie guidelines as a template, most fanfic can be rated as follows:
- G: Good clean fun for all ages.
- PG: Mild implied sexual innuendo, mild bad words, or violence or serious (though not quite mature) topics.
- PG-13: Some violence, bad language, obvious sexual innuendo, implied sexual relations. Also may include some mature topics such as suicide, homosexuality, drug/alcohol advocacy, rape aftermath, details of childbirth, etc. depending on the mores of the fandom involved.
- R: Just-short-of-explicit sex, graphic torture or violence, rape. Not recommended for minors.
- NC-17: explicit erotica, excessively gory violence. Often illegal for underage readers.
- X: the same as NC-17 but only in reference to sex. No longer used by some fandoms.
- XXX: Pure graphic badly-written porn -- rarely seen and not encouraged in fanfic circles.
Note: Due to bitchiness on the part of the MPAA, many sites are now setting up their own rating systems.
Shota, shotacon: A romance story (usually, but not always sexual in nature) in which at least one of the participants is a young boy. The age cut-off is about 15 and can overlap territory covered by the term shounen ai, which is generally considered sweeter, less graphic, and more acceptable. Sometimes spelled "shotakon" in correct Romanization, or abbreviated to "shota"; "Shota" (or "Shouta") is a boy's name in Japanese. The female equivalent is lolicon.
shounen ai, shonenai: A label for stories which deal with sweet, non-graphic romance between two guys, a milder term than yaoi. The female version is shoujo ai. See also shotacon and yaoi,
slash: A type of fic, often written by women, involving romantic or sexual involvement between two characters of the same gender.
Smut: Porn! But in a light amused "yeah, gimme some of that" sort of way.
spoiler, spoilers: A piece of information which can reveal (and thereby "spoil") an important plotpoint in a movie, show, issue, etc. that the reader has not yet seen/read. This term is rapidly going mainstream.
Yaoi: Erotic tales or images of male/male (gay) encounters, usually for adults only -- the Japanese version of hardcore slash. Yaoi is an acronym for the Japanese phrase "Yama nashi, imi nashi, ochi nashi" ("Without climax, without meaning, without resolution"), though some fans joke that it stands for"Yamete! Oshiri ga itai!" ("Stop! My ass hurts!").
Yuri: Indicates stories dealing with female/female (lesbian) pairings, usually intended for adults only.
Please note that this is an incomplete list. I’ve only put what I thought was most important in what related to the Fullmetal Alchemist Fandom. Please go HERE for the complete listing (the link is also where I snagged these definitions).
If you feel anything important has been left out, please let me know.
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