A Dictionary of Fanfiction Terms
I am aware that most of you probably already know these (from context if nothing else), but this is a “Beginner’s” guide, and as such, it never hurts to clarify some basics. Therefore, for your reference, I have compiled a list of terminology and acronyms associated with fanfiction in general. I will edit/update these as necessary, and will be happy to include any contributions.
AU - Alternate Universe, indicates canonical characters in non-canonical situations, locations, and story arcs.
BroTP - A play on the abbreviation OTP (One True Pairing) and the word “Bromance.” A BroTP indicates an affectionate but non-romantic “pairing” of two men.
Crack - a pointless humor fanfiction, in which characters rarely behave according to their normal inclinations. The objective is usually to be as absurd as possible, but the level bizarreness varies.
Crossover - a fanfiction combining two or more canons or source materials. Often, characters from one source are relocated to or bound by rules of the setting in another source (a form of AU) or characters from different sources interact on some type of common ground.
Dubcon (dub-con) - Dubious Consent, implying possible rape or resistance. So called because it treads the line of rape or nonconsensual activity without necessarily being outright rape or violence (play-rape and BDSM-type activity often falls into this category)
Lemon - a fanfiction more or less exclusively about sex or very heavily focused on sex, usually short, similar to a PWP but not necessarily without plot.
Noncon (non-con) - Nonconsensual sex, rape.
OTP - One True Pairing, an individual’s default or most preferred pairing of characters. Very few people actually have only “one” true pairing, so it usually means something more along the lines of “One of many True Pairings”
OOC - Out Of Character, usually a criticism, indicating that the author did not have a good grasp on the character. Occasionally used as an excuse (drunkenness, dreams, etc.) but usually unacceptable in non-crack fanfictions.
PWP - Porn without plot, a fanfiction consisting almost exclusively of graphic sex.
Ship - used as both a noun and a verb, “ship” is an abbreviation of the word “relationship.” To “ship” a pairing is to support their relationship, be it canon or not. This term can apply to any pairing, be it heterosexual, homosexual, or otherwise.
Slash - A homosexual pairing or fanfictions typified by homosexual male pairings. The term comes from the first such well-documented pairing: Kirk and Spock of Star Trek. Fanfictions about them were written Kirk/Spock, which was eventually shortened to simply “slash” and used to refer to any male/male pairing. It is used for female/female pairings occasionally, but that usage has become typical only recently.