We here at the Collective love our fanfiction. I first delved into the fanfiction world almost ten years ago, when I was a quiet and introverted freshman at uni. As college progressed, I didn’t have the time to read like I once did, but once I finished grad school, I jumped right back in only to realize the fanfic ‘verse is MUCH bigger than it was 8 years ago. It’s a bit overwhelming if you’re new to it, especially if you don’t know the lingo, so here is my quick and dirty guide to fanfiction for the newbie.

Choosing the ‘verse

As I’ve said before, the beauty of fanfiction is that it showcases how incredibly creative and talented we fans can be. But, fanfiction is like a drug, and you’ve got to pick the right one that does it for you. Now, before we go any further, if you’ve been to the three biggest fanfiction websites–fanfiction.net (FFN) or archiveofourown.org (AO3) or Wattpad–you’ve probably noticed the excessive use of the exclamation point (!) in the tags. The exclamation point denotes an emphasized characteristic of a character or of the universe in which the fanfiction is set, i.e. Possessive!Draco or Omega!verse. So when it comes to choosing the ‘verse you want to read, be aware that tags with the exclamation point are pretty much the road signs–they’ll take you where you want to go or warn you away from things you don’t want to read.

Some common terms about fanfiction ‘verses:

AU–Alternative Universe. This could be as simple as the story taking place in a coffee shop (a popular setting) or it could be one of the author’s own imagining. Either way, AU means it is not set in the canon.

This is what we call an AU.

The Canon–This term encompasses everything that defines the particular work(s) on which a fandom is based. In other words, everything created by the original author/creators. If it’s in the show/book/movie, it’s canon. Fics are usually labelled as canon or non-canon compliant. (If it’s AU, it’s pretty certain to be non-canon. Most of the time.)