I don't really blame you.
Because Fanfiction has its own lexicon.
However, my friends, I am here to save you! Today I'm gonna quickly cover what I consider to be the basics of fanspeak--the terms that newfledged fanfic readers should find particularly useful when scouring the archives. So check it:
Fandom refers to the fan-based community dedicated to a certain book, movie, tv show, video game, comic, etc, etc. It includes everything and anything that is fan created--so fanfiction is a huge part of fandom.
Gen • Het • Slash • Femslash
All of these terms have something to do with romantic parings in fanfiction. Gen refers to general fanfiction where there is no romance. Het is short for a heterosexual pairing. Slash refers to male homosexual pairings, and thus, femslash refers specifically to lesbian pairings. Many fandoms also have character specific terms, which you'll have to figure out on your own, since they can be pretty much anything, including: names, acronyms, initials, and spliced words.
Canon, fanon, and head-canon
Canon refers to elements that are officially established by the source material. For example, it's canon that Harry Potter goes to Hogwarts. Fanon, on the other hand is a combination of "fan" and "canon," so it's usually something that the fandom has accepted as canon. In the case of Harry Potter, before the last book came out, a lot of people had decided that Hermione was going to be Head Girl. Head-canon is what you personally think to be true about something in a fandom, even though it's not officially canon of widely accepted by the fandom.
Shippers and their OTPs
A shipper is a person who ships a certain ship. Yes. It's two different nouns and a verb. Just understand that "ship" is short for "romantic relationship" and shippers are all about supporting their favorite one. Hopefully you get the gist. Anyway, OTP stands for One True Pairing. It's usually used as an expression of one's support for their favorite ship.
OCs and Mary Sues
OC stands for Original Character, which is pretty self explanatory. Mary Sues are technically OCs, however Mary Sues are usually a self-insertion of the author. They are characterized by being perfect, exotic, and tragic, yet horribly obnoxious. People like OCs and they hate Mary Sues.
Citrus: Lemons and limes
Citrus is a, uhh, term that refers to the steamy romance times in a fanfic. Lime is usually anything up to heavy petting and lemon is sex, be it chaste or graphic.
There are about a billion different acronyms and terms to quickly describe the content in a fanfic, and I'm not going to cover all of them, because, like I said, a billion. Instead, I'll give you some of the most common labels:
- AU: Alternate Universe. Wherein the fanfic takes place in a different world from canon.
- PWP: "Plot? What Plot?" Unabashed adult fanfiction.
- RPF: Real Person Fanfic. Fanfiction about real people--usually actors or musicians.
- OOC: Out-of-Character. In which the characters do not act like themselves. WHICH IS LAME.
- X-Over: Fanfiction that combines characters/situations from two different fandoms.
And that's all for now! Like I said, this is only a smidgen of fanspeak, so if you ever run into something you don't understand, there's always Moonbeam's Fanfiction Terminology. It's a little dated, but definitely a good resource.
Now tell me, what do you guys think about fanspeak? Have any crazy stories about not knowing what something means? Think it's ridiculous that there's a learning curve to this nonsense? Or did I miss a term that desperately needs to be added posthaste? Tell me in the comments.