by Susan Mesler-Evans
If your teenager just sent you a link to this article, it means they’re tired of having to explain all these terms to you repeatedly. Don’t worry, though. There’s nothing wrong with you. The internet comes up with bizarre new terms all the time (YOLO? Really?), and they can be hard to keep track of, especially in the world of fanfiction. So, this is a glossary to help set the record straight!
Now, the first thing I should clear up is what fanfiction is. Fanfiction, often shortened to fanfic, is basically what happens when a fan of a book, movie, comic or what-have-you writes stories that take place within that story’s universe. For instance, if you really like Harry Potter and you write a story about Luna Lovegood going off on magical adventures to find Nargles, you have just written a fanfiction. Almost every teenager on the internet nowadays has written or read fanfic, whether they admit it or not. You can find fanfic on fanfiction.net, Tumblr, any message board, or through a quick Google search. Unfortunately, the standards for fanfic writing quality tend to be very, very low, but if you dig (and dig and dig and dig), you can find some really great stuff.
There are two sections to this glossary: one for fanfic in general, and one dedicated to shipping. Yes, shipping is so serious in the fanfic world, I had to give it it’s own section. What’s shipping,’ you may ask? Well... That’s why we have a glossary.
Canon: Events that actually happened within the story, like the Battle of Hogwarts happening in Harry Potter. If a fic complies with canon, it means it could’ve actually happened within the original story, like if you wrote a story about Fred and George stealing the Marauder's Map.
AU: Short for “alternate universe.” This is for crap that did not happen in the original story. If you write an AU fic, it means you’re writing a story that doesn’t comply with canon. This can range from minor changes (“What if Ron hadn’t run off?”), to major changes (“What if Hermione and Draco fell in love?”) to what-the-hell-are-you-smoking? (“What if Harry Potter took place during World War II and everyone was a Muggle?”).
Drabble: Really short fics. Usually around 100-300 words.
Oneshot: A fic that’s only one chapter long.
Lemon: Porn. Lots and lots of porn. ...Well, you wanted to know.
Smut: More porn.
Crackfic: Where the fic gets so bizarre, it goes from “what-the-hell-are-you-smoking?” to “what-the-hell-are-you-smoking-and-where-can-I-get-some?” Here’s a sample plot: Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to Dumbledore’s office, but then Dumbledore turns into a giant serpent that wants to rule the world. So Ron grabs a sword made of fire and justice and more fire to fight for truth and justice and stuff, and wins the battle. Harry dies of shame and Rita Skeeter falls in love with Ron. Then the school explodes and everyone has sex for some reason.
Trollfic: A fanfiction that’s so awful and so stupid, it’s a parody of awful and stupid fanfiction. These often include OOC-ness (explained below), Mary Sues (explained in my first column), bad spelling, and blatant wish fulfillment, common in bad fanfic, but on purpose in trollfic.
OOC: Out of character. Often used by bad fanfic writers who need a character to become nicer or meaner to justify a plot to happen. Like, for instance, making Draco really, really nice so Hermione will leave Ron for him.
Fandom: The group of people that like a certain show, movie, book, person, or whatever. Various fandoms have various nicknames, including Potterheads (Harry Potter fans), Sherlockians (Sherlock fans), Plague Rats (Emilie Autumn fans), Tributes (Hunger Games fans), and Bronies (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fans).
Hatedom: The opposite of fandom. A group of people that really, really hate a certain franchise. Some franchises have small but vocal hatedoms (like Harry Potter), while with others, the only reason anyone ever mentions it online is to talk about how much they hate it (like Barney).
Fandumb: A crazy, entitled, obsessive, or otherwise unlikable fandom. Every fandom has a few of these people, who often get berated for making a bad name for everyone else.
Hatedumb: Basically the same thing as a hatedom, except they don’t like the franchise for stupid reasons. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has a pretty big one, due to the fact that some people refuse to watch it solely on the ground that it’s aimed at elementary school aged girls. Alternatively, a hatedumb may have perfectly good reasons for not liking the franchise, such as just not liking the characters, but bashing the fandom for liking it.
Darkfic: Taking a lighthearted franchise and writing a seriously dark fanfic about it, be it depressing or scary or just plain gross. The most famous example is probably Cupcakes, a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfiction. If you want to read it, go ahead... if you like mass murder and cannibalism.
Fluff: Shameless cuteness, often humor or romance or some combination thereof.
Asdfghjkl: Actually more of an internet term in general. It basically means “This is so amazing/sexy/great/funny/perfect that I can’t even find a word to describe it.”
Fangirl: A female fandom member, usually a teenager. They tend to gush over cute actors and their favorite characters, write a lot of fanfiction, and frequent Tumblr. The verb “to fangirl” is to be filled with so much emotion for something you really love, you just can’t handle it outside of rambling on and on about how this thing is so amazing oh my God!
Squee: The noise fangirls make while they’re fangirling. Usually sounds like a very high-pitched “Eeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”
Ship: Okay, so the phrase “ship” comes from the word relationship. Ship can be a noun or a verb. If it’s a noun, it’s a pair of characters that you think should be in a relationship together. (“Ron and Hermione are the best ship!”) If it’s a verb, then you ship two characters, i.e., you want them to be in a relationship (“I ship Harry and Draco so hard!”).
Shipping wars: On the internet, there are several different ships. And many of these ships conflict with each other. Most people on the internet are fairly cool about this and don’t really care if you ship something that conflicts with their ship. But if you ever come across a fandumb that has a ship that’s different than yours... RUN. RUN, AND DON’T COMMENT ON IT. If you do, a shipping war will inevitably start. These can go on for years if you’re not careful. Popular tactics include: sending hate-mail online about how dumb the other party’s ship is; writing nasty reviews on fanfics supporting that ship; vandalizing blogs and forums dedicated to that ship, and just being immature douches about it in general.
Ship name: If a ship gets really popular (and even if it doesn’t), the ship will be given a unique name instantly recognizable by the fandom. This is usually achieved by combining the two characters’ names. For instance, Ron + Hermione = Romione. However, this doesn’t always work out. For instance: Katniss + Peeta = either Peeniss or Katpee. (No one ever seems to think of combining their last names and using Everlark, which is a real shame.) So, the fandom can pick a name that doesn’t combine the characters’ names, but still works anyway, such as Toast. (The Girl on Fire + The Boy With the Bread.)
OTP: One True Pairing. Your favorite ship. The ship you will always ship, no matter what. Technically, you’re only supposed to have one, hence the name, but most people have several. The general rule seems to be “one OTP per fandom,” but none of us really follow that one, either.
OT3: One True Threesome. A very handy way of avoiding shipping wars (though it doesn’t always work). Why should Hermione have to pick between Harry and Ron when they could all just have a sexy three way?
Crossover ship: When you ship two characters who aren’t even in the same franchise. Fairly simple. From what I can tell, Harry Potter/Edward Cullen from Twilight is... disturbingly popular.
NoTP: You don’t just hate this ship. You despise it. It will never work in your mind, ever, and just thinking about fanart of it makes you want to vomit.
Crackship: No, seriously, what are you smoking?
And so endeth the linguistics lesson for today. I hope you enjoyed it, and maybe even learned something. Next up: who knows?