AU Alternate Universes
Imagine a universe slightly different from ours... All fictional settings and the variants thereof are said
to take place in alternate universes, as if they're actually real but can't be seen or reached except by
the imagination -- or by crossovers. ;) Sometimes this term is shortened to AU or A/U in other
fandoms; however, the concept is universal. [I personally don't find anything wrong with alternate
universe. Often, it's a way to fix those things the writers did that made the show "jump the shark". In
other words, it's a way to fix what went wrong with the show.]

ANC: "Annoying New Character" -- an author-created character who (obviously) annoys the hell out of
readers. Often, but not always, a Mary Sue. [A personal pet peeve. Most fans enjoyed a show for the
characters that were ON THE SHOW. There's no need to add to the cast, unless you're adding what
amounts to extras on a TV show.]

Angst: Refers to the emotional wounds suffered and/or borne by a character, especially if they spend
pages moaning about their miserable life in great detail. Can add intensity to a story or turn it into one
big long pityparty. Warning: angst can be addictive!

Annoying Original Female Character: Any Original Female Character who's, well, irritating as all hell.
Usually a Mary Sue. Often abbreviated to AOFC. [Iritating as hell is certainly the term for it, IMHO.
Keep your fantasies to yourself.]

Aura Of Smooth: An imaginary energy field said to exist around blatant Mary Sues or other
self-insertions. It's the only explanation for how the canon characters suddenly turn into gullible
shadows of their normal selves around 'em. [ROTFL]

Beta, Betaread, Beta-read: To edit and comment on someone else's work before it's finalized, taken
presumably from the old software term "betatesting." Betareading brings a fresh perspective to a
rough draft -- by the definition of the word, one cannot beta one's own work.

Canon: An adjective referring to a character, event, plotline, etc. which happened "for real" -- the
actual professional source material. Note that "canon" is a term used throughout most fanficdoms, not
just here. On the Star Trek fanfic forums, this is sometimes jokingly referred to as TDC (The Dread

Crossover: A story which straddles two different fandoms. Can be as close mixing characters from
different universes within a genre (ie. Batman/Wolverine) or as wildly disparate as you can imagine
(ie. Buffy/Teletubbies). These stories can either be great fun or infamously horrible, depending on the
skill of the writer. Sometimes spelled "cross-over" or abbreviated to "C/O" but not with comic fandom.

ep: Episode of a TV show.

Fandom: A collective term used to describe all fans and their activities. Science fiction fandom
originates in the 1930s, when the first clubs were created.

H/C: hurt/comfort -- a style of story in which one character is harmed (physically or emotionally) and
another must save them, make them feel better, or both. Though not often seen in comic fandom, this
one's been around since the original Star Trek 'zines and is often used to encourage a hopeless
romance or set the stage for slash. In Sentinel fandom, stories of this type are jokingly called
"owwies." [As are Emergency! stories. Usually referred to as Johnny-owies, or Roy-owies.]

Lurker: Member of a mailing list, messageboard, or other forum who rarely if ever directly posts or
comments, instead remaining "invisible." Sometimes lurkers are so good that you don't know they're
there for years. Some lists tolerate lurkers; others strongly discourage or even ban them to assure
that all members "pull their weight" by participating.
Please note: most fanfic writers do not like lurkers. If you enjoy a story, send feedback! [Amen!]

Mary Sue: The generic name for any new character (usually female) who's a ego-stroke for the writer:
she's beautiful, has amazing skills/powers, gets into a love affair with an existing character, or
(usually) all of the above. Mary Sues often convince characters to hook up romantically, especially in
slash. Good writers can write good Mary Sues, but this is not the norm. [Again, anoying as hell. Again,
keep your fantasies to yourself. And, if you're going to insist on writing a Mary Sue...for heaven's sake
at least don't use your real name. That just makes it that much more nauseating.<G>]

Moderator: A person who has full or partial control over posts to a moderated newsgroup, mailing list,
or other forum. Some moderators have complete control, okaying or denying each message; others
merely have the authority to delete rules-breaking posts and negotiate arguments.

Netiquette: Rules of acceptable online behavior. Whether assumed, word-of-mouth, or painstakingly
recorded, these rules vary from situation to situation -- and from fandom to fandom. If you're not a
"local" (or even if you are!), it's best that you mind your manners.

Newbie: A raw newcomer to any online group/place/genre, sometimes less charitably called a "virgin,"
or in older circles a "neofan" ("neo" for short). Often not meant cruelly but as a simple statement of

Original Character: Any character who was created by a fanfic author, rather than being from the
original canon material. Often abbreviated to "OC" or "oc."

OT: Denotes an off-topic message on a mailing list or messageboard

Plot Bunnies, plotbunnies: Ever get hit with a story concept that doesn't really go anywhere but you
have to write it? You've just been attacked by a plot bunny! Possibly inspired by John Steinbeck:
"Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a

Ratings: An author- or archivist-applied system which lets readers know what they're in for before they
start reading a story. Not all archives or mailing lists require ratings, but most of the good ones do --
ratings are increasingly becoming a solid component of good fanfic etiquette, and at very least
authors are expected to warn readers if a story contains explicit adult content. Using the American
movie guidelines as a template, most fanfic can be rated as follows:

  G: Good clean fun for all ages.

  PG: Mild implied sexual innuendo, mild bad words, or violence or serious (though not quite      
mature) topics.

 PG-13: Some violence, bad language, obvious sexual innuendo, implied sexual relations. Also may
include some mature topics such as suicide, homosexuality, drug/alcohol advocacy, rape aftermath,
details of childbirth, etc. depending on the mores of the fandom involved.

 R: Just-short-of-explicit sex, graphic torture or violence, rape. Not recommended for minors.

 NC-17: explicit erotica, excessively gory violence. Often illegal for underage readers.

 X: the same as NC-17 but only in reference to sex. No longer used by some fandoms.

Real Life: The dread eternal reason why fans vanish, authors stop posting, and archivists fall behind
in their duties. Often abbreviated to RL.

Spoiler, spoilers: A piece of information within a story or a message which can reveal (and thereby
"spoil") an important plotpoint in a movie, show, issue, etc. that the reader has not yet seen/read.

WIP: "Work In Progress" -- a story whose ending has not yet been written or a rough draft which has
not been thoroughly betaread.