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Fanfiction 101: Everything You Need to Know 📖

Updated: May 19, 2023

Written by: Katie Curran

Have you ever wanted to get into the world of fanfiction, but weren’t exactly sure how? In this week’s blog, we’re giving you all the history, terms, and tips you need to know about it! 🤩

Firstly, what exactly *is* fanfiction? It is one of the most important parts of fan culture and has changed so much over the years. Fanfiction is a fictional story, written by a fan, that features a character from an imaginary universe or celebrities. It got its start in the late 1960s when Star Trek first became popular! Over the next few decades, it became increasingly popular through sci-fi fandoms such as Star Wars, and even Harry Potter. In the early 2010s, bands such as One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer brought it to its height in the music world, where it has remained a crucial part of fandoms. 😁

You may be asking yourself, what kinds of fanfictions are there? There are so many types, but here are the ones that you need to know before deep-diving! ✍🏻

  • Alternate Universe: These contain your favorite characters or people, but take place in different worlds. The phrase “alternate universe” is typically shortened to AU, and can mean anything from celebrities as vampires or fictional characters in the real world!

  • Fluff: These are more lighthearted, positive stories! They contain sweeter, happier moments and/or events.

  • Smut: Smut is another word for works containing sexual content, and are intended for readers over the age of 18. If you are under 18, please do not read this type of content. ❤️‍

  • Angst: Works with angst typically contain darker storylines that could range from struggles with mental health to sadness, anger, and breakdown of relationships.

  • One-Shots/Imagines: These are short stories, with little to no backstory. They can have smut, fluff, angst, or a combination of all three!

  • POV: These types of works are from any point of view, or the love interest’s point of view. In POV stories, the main character is typically Y/N, which is just your (the reader’s) name!

One important part of fanfiction that is present in all of these types is ships! A ship is, in basic terms, wanting two characters from any franchise or universe, or even two real people, to be in a romantic relationship. For example, in the Harry Potter world, a popular ship would be Harry and Hermione. When writing fanfictions with bands, artists, or actors, it is not uncommon to see certain band members or actors shipped. Fans who ship those characters or people often give them ship names, which are a combination of the two! An example of this would be Harmony, the popular name given for Harry Potter and Hermione, or Dramione, for Draco and Hermione. 😍

Now that you know what kinds of fanfictions you may want to read, here are some awesome places to find them! Here are the three most popular places to find fanfictions today. Archive Of Our Own, also known as AO3, is a fan-created, fan-run platform that has thousands of works on its website. On AO3, creators can make everything from fanfiction to fan art and videos of their favs. Wattpad, much like AO3, is an incredibly popular place to read fanfiction. It was created in 2006, but it peaked in the early to mid-2010s. Stories do not cost anything to read, but keep an eye out for ads between chapters!

The last main platform for fanfiction, which is arguably the most well-known, is Tumblr. Started in 2007 as a blogging platform, Tumblr allowed fans from all different fandoms to create their own blogs with pictures, photos, themes, and even fanfiction! In 2013 and 2014, the platform peaked as One Direction reached their peak in the music industry. One Direction was not the extent of the platform’s success though. Around the same time, bands such as The 1975 and Arctic Monkeys played a large part in the introduction of the “Tumblr girl” aesthetic. If you want to read more, check out our blog post about the influence of 2014 Tumblr here! 🖤

Fanfiction has been a critical part of fandoms and fan culture for decades. Whether you’re new to a fandom or a longtime member of one, we hope these terms and platforms help you in exploring this side of being a fan. For more content like this, visit our Instagram and Twitter! 💜

If you want to get more involved in fan communities, join a Fan Crew or our awesome weekly newsletter!


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