Fan fiction (alternatively referred to as fan-fiction, fanfiction, fanfic, FF, or simply fic) is a broadly-defined fan labor term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator. Works of fan fiction are rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work’s owner, creator, or publisher; also, they are almost never professionally published. Because of this, many stories often contain a disclaimer stating that the creator of the work owns none of the characters. Fan fiction, therefore, is defined by being both related to its subject’s canonical fictional universe and simultaneously existing outside the canon of that universe. Most fan fiction writers assume that their work is read primarily by other fans, and therefore tend to presume that their readers have knowledge of the canon universe (created by a professional writer) in which their works are based.
Crossovers are stories that incorporate two or more different sources. For example, an author may take a character from Canon A and place him or her in the universe of Canon B, or characters from two or more fandoms may meet at a neutral location (e.g.; Harry Potter x Hetalia: Axis Powers or Lord of the Rings xStar Wars). These stories may include romantic or sexual pairings between characters from different canons.
Categorization by story length varies greatly among fandoms and among individuals. It is a common practice in many fandoms to list word count in the header information, especially on LiveJournal. Fanfiction.net and other archives may have their own specialized rules. Terminology for story length also varies. Some commonly used terms are drabble (either a story of exactly 100 words or a very short story), ficlet (longer than a drabble, but still very short) and one-shot (only a chapter long). Longer stories may be called longfic, epic, full-length, or novel-length, but these are typically not labels that would be applied by the author.
It is common, especially in fandoms based on U.S. source material, to provide a rating based on MPAA movie ratings G through NC-17. Ratings are usually accompanied by a brief statement of the reason for the rating such as sexual content, violence, or profanity. “Adult” or “Mature” are also commonly used to refer to content equivalent to an R or NC-17 rating.
On Fanfiction.net, the ratings are as follows:
- K for Kids: Suitable for all ages (Equivalent to a G-Rating)
- K+ for Older Kids: Suitable for children 9 and older (Equivalent to a PG-Rating)
- T for Teen: Suitable for teens 13 and older (Equivalent to a PG-13-Rating)
- M for Mature: Suitable for teens 16 and older (Equivalent to an R-Rating)
- MA for Mature Adults: Limited only to adults 18 and older (Equivalent to an NC-17-Rating)
(MA has been banned on FanFiction.net and FictionPress.com.)