Rule-Breaking Genres

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Let’s face it.  While nearly all of my guides were focusing on writing in general, therefore original fiction and fan fiction would apply, most of my focus and retaliation was for fan fiction.  It seems as though people have this assumption that there is a higher ratio of good versus bad fiction in the original fiction category than fan fiction, but this is not true.  I’m not a publisher, nor an editor, in addition haven’t professionally published any of my stories, so how can I say this with such confidence?  Fan fiction and original writers are writers.  Period.  There are both young and older writers in both spectrums with every scale of writing skill imaginable.  Sure, there may be more younger writers writing fan fiction than original fiction, but, then again, twelve-year-old Carolann Plank from Brighton published her 245 page YA book.  There are also children who publish children’s books.  There just aren’t any statistics on who writes what in fan fiction which would hinder statistical comparisons between fan fiction and original fiction.

The only thing I can say, that I know for absolute certain, is roughly how the original fiction world works.  There are millions of writers that write original fiction, but how many authors can you name (that are alive)?  Less than a million, right?  Publishers get thousands of submissions by courageous people every year and about ninety percent are rejected.  Ninety-eight percent are rejected by the second page.  In other words, the fiction you see on book store shelves versus every writer out there on the planet is heavily filtered down!  Fan fiction simply isn’t; and because everyone knows you can’t get paid for your fan fiction (unless you file off the serial number), there’s virtually no point in working as hard as original stories that could be published if you ever decide to go for it.  Yes, yes, spelling and grammar do count for enjoy ability and to show that you’re not that lazy, but how many fan fiction that are published are the first drafts?  Nearly all of them, I assume.  Why is that?  It’s simple.  Writers have these ideas in their heads, and they simply want it out.  The first draft is enough for most fan fiction writers to feel content.  They got their idea out and completed, and now they can work on the next project.

Do you think that all of those published books that are being sold on the shelves are first drafts?  Most certainly not!

So, aside from a comparison of overall quality of fan fiction and original fiction, why does fan fiction take so many hits?  I’ve already written about some complaints in my non-Mary-Sue guide “Fan Fiction: Respect Our Rights,” but there is one complaint that I would like to especially like to highlight.


Unlike original fiction, which once the story’s established, the universe and genre are also established, that sudden transition from reality to the story isn’t so sudden with fan fiction.  With some fan fictions, the readers discern reality, to the fandom, and then the fan fiction which may not follow the original canon material.  Original fiction has romance, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, etc.  Fan fiction has that and more.  These extras in the list of genres, story-types, and warnings greatly affect the potential reader’s first opinion of the story more so than with original fiction.  Look at this list of terms and the definitions to them, and see how many changes of the canon material could be possible—and then disinterest you entirely.

All Human (AH)
This is for fandoms that have non-human characters, in which the fan fiction writer makes them human in their fan fiction.

Alternate Reality (AR)
The canon universe stays mostly the same, but there are some differences such as characters living or dying, changes in technology, characters don’t do what they had originally done, etc.

Alternate Timeline (AT)
The fan fiction takes place in a different time (past or future) than the canon, or the timeline is changed from the canon.

Alternate Universe (AU)
The fan fiction universe is vastly different from the canon universe. A popular AU theme is placing the canon characters in a high school setting.

This is a fan fiction that continues where the fandom leaves off.

Crossover (X-over / CO / XO)
This is a fan fiction that combines two or more fandoms. They could combine universes, characters or themes.

This is to denote when the fan fiction features a male canon character has changed genders to female within the fan fiction by placing the letter “F“ in front of the canon character‘s name.

Femslash (F/F)
This is where female canon characters engage in a lesbian relationship despite the canon character either being stated as straight within the fandom, or was never proven of a definite sexuality.

This is to denote when the fan fiction features a female canon character has changed genders to male within the fan fiction by placing the letter “M“ in front of the canon character‘s name.

Original Fan Fiction (OFF)
This is where a fan fiction writer takes the universe of a fandom, but writes with only Fan Characters or Original Characters with little to no mention of the canon characters. Despite the story containing most if not all Fan Characters, this is still considered fan fiction because the fictional universe is based upon copyrighted material.

Out of Character (OOC)
When a canon character does not behave as they did in the original fandom material. This term is usually used if the odd behavior is done drastically or if, say, the canon character is under the influence and is portrayed as out of behavior because of this.

A fan fiction that takes place before the series starts.

This is a fan fiction that does not necessarily need to be Slash or about homosexual relationships for a canon character, but introduces the possibility for it to occur.

A fan fiction in which the writer takes a canon character, and whether their sexuality had been determinedly straight or not, makes them a homosexual. I personally also use this term when established homosexual canon characters are written as straight because, otherwise, what kind of warning could I use? This term is usually used for male characters because there is a term Femslash for the female canon characters. This term is also used in original stories if the main pairing features male homosexual relationships (which kind of goes against the original definition).

Time? What Time (TWT)
A fan fiction that takes place in the original canon universe, but it is unknown at what time during the canon story.

This is used so readers will know which universe the fan fiction takes place in due to the different Medias being different, such as when a movie is made based off of a book (Movieverse/Bookverse), or when an anime is based off of the manga (Animeverse/Mangaverse).

OK, maybe one or two per fan fiction isn’t so bad, but what about three or four?  Can you imagine a Storm Hawks fan fiction that’s AH, AU, OOC, and crossed-over with, let’s say, Star Wars?  

Maybe I’m weird, but aside from the OOC, I would possibly read it.  That’s my point right there, though!  OOC definitely turns me off.  These are established characters, and if you tweak them in any way to purposefully make them act unlike themselves, it’s weird.  To some die-hard fans of these fandoms, this OOCness could be seen as an insult to the creator, and these fans want to protect the creator and the canon material at all costs (even though fan fiction usually doesn’t effect the canon material in any way).  Same with the All Human warning.  If a character is an alien, why make them a human?

But this is fan fiction, and writers of fan fiction can do just about whatever they want.  We’re not getting paid; we’re just having fun.  As strange as the combination of the list above can get, it’s an idea, and we need to let it out.  It’s really as simple as that.  Sure, most writers of fan fiction want to entertain readers, but then there are those who just want to know that they aren’t crazy or along for having bizarre ideas.

The only complaining that should be done when it comes to these combinations of genres, warnings, and types is if it isn’t listed or stated somewhere on the story.  Warnings are there for a reason just like age ratings on movies.  Types and genres don’t generally need to be worried about, but it would be nice to know, unless stated on the site rules that all applicable genres, types and warnings need to be listed.

As a final note, any rules, tips, or guidelines that I have stated before in all of my other writing guides may not be applicable when the fan fiction has any of these canon-altering genres, types or warnings.  

This concludes The Mary-Sue Complaints Checklist, but if you have any other writing faux pas that have been complained about (or stated in a Mary-Sue test or something), but you don’t agree it, give me a shout.
If you haven't, please read my Mary-Sue: Who is She? Series first.

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