Relationships in Fandoms by Emma Darcy

(This week on my blog I am posting an entry every day, and each entry will be written by somebody other than me. Today’s entry is written by Emma Darcy. Emma studies the same Creative Writing course as me at Bath Spa University. If you enjoy this entry, you may like to head over to YouTube where you can find her vlog.)

One of the reasons I love fandom so much is because of the huge diversity of relationships portrayed in the work it produces (mainly fanfiction and fanart). There is something for everyone, no matter what the kink. You want Arthur/Merlin? Not a problem. Asexual!Sherlock/John? We’ve got it covered. Gender or racebent Avengers fic? Sure thing. You want to see Harry initiate a consensual threeway relationship with Ron and Hermione? I can get you some of that. I could also find you some excellent genderqueer and trans fanfiction, not to mention the fantastic true-to-life BDSM fic I’ve read over the years. And that’s just the more niche stuff. There are plenty of simple erotica fics out there as well – porn with and without plot – and while romantic relationships make up a large portion of fanworks, there’s plenty of stuff featuring platonic and family relationships as well.
    It’s not untrue to say that many fandoms are dominated by slash (male/male) fiction, sometimes at the expense of the female characters. Fandom can also engage in ship wars and bitching sessions to rival anything on a celebrity gossip site, and it’s a fact of life that some of the fanfiction out there is just plain bad. I should know – I’ve written some. It’s rare that a fourteen year-old ever comes out with anything particularly wonderful, after all.
    But fandom is also a great place to experiment with these things. Fandom can be a place to discover whether you like the idea of Dom/sub interactions, or if spanking turns you on. Maybe one person patching another up in the aftermath of a fight tickles your fancy, or the revealing of an embarrassing secret hits your emotional buttons. Because it isn’t all porn, though of course a hell of a lot of it is.
    If you can’t find what you’re looking for, fandom is the best place to try writing some of your own. And if you feel like you can’t do that, there are kinkmemes where you can ask writers to fill your prompts. You can even do it anonymously if you don’t feel like attaching your name to a comment asking for someone to write a Snow White/Sleeping Beauty crossover with choking, breathplay, and orgasm denial, or for an exploration of the mother/daughter relationship of Rapunzel and her mother after they’re reunited in Tangled. Somewhere out there, there is a writer only too happy to fill that prompt, and a bunch of people who will read it and praise you both for your time and imagination.
    Fanfiction, and its sexual side in particular, has been thrust into the spotlight over the 50 Shades phenomenon. What people unfortunately don’t seem to realise is that there’s so much more to fandom than borderline dub-con het fic. Fandom can be the most satisfying and safe place to explore your own cravings and learn about other peoples’, especially the sort of things that are rarely, if ever, touched on in the mainstream media. Things like asexuality and polyamory, and kinks that are heavily shamed, like watersports and humiliation. I’ve learned more about people’s desires from fandom than I would ever have from mainstream media, and the acceptance and compassion in many of these online communities is simply beautiful.

Where to Go

– and AO3 (Archive of our Own) are great places to look for fanfiction. You can narrow your search by fandom, pairing, genre, length, and all sorts of other things. If you become a member you can subscribe to the writers or stories you like and even post your own.

LiveJournal and Dreamwidth are blogging sites with ‘communities’ members can join and post in. Communities can contain fanworks of all kinds, from icons to fanmixes, and this is primarily where the kinkmemes can be found.

Tumblr is a bit of a mixed bag that can have a bit of a bite on occasion, but as long as you’re sensible it can be a lot of fun.


AU: alternate universe. E.g. au where Neville Longbottom is the chosen one instead of Harry Potter.
Beta: the person who essentially acts as a fanfiction author’s editor.
Canon: what has occurred in the original book/movie/TV show/etc. Facts of the universe as set down by its original creator(s).
Crackfic: fanfiction that reads like it was written while the author was on crack.
Crossover: one fandom’s universe crossing over with another. E.g. the Doctor flies the TARDIS to Hogwarts.
Drabble: very short fanfiction, similar to flash fiction. Usually under 500 words.
Dub-con: dubious consent.
Fanart: art of any kind with the chosen fandom as the subject.
Fancast: fan-made casting choices for characters.
Fandom: the community of the fans. There are different fandoms for different things, such as Harry Potter, Star Trek, Gossip Girl, and even bands like One Direction and Fall Out Boy.
Fanfiction: fictional stories set in the universe of a particular book/TV show/movie/etc.
Fanmix: a collection of songs chosen to fit a certain fandom, character, pairing, etc, arranged in album format.
Fanon: headcanons accepted by a large percentage of the fandom.
Fanvid: a music video of sorts of clips from a TV show/movie/etc.
Femslash: female/female.
Fluff: cutesy interactions between two or more characters. Doesn’t have to be romantic, but usually is.
Gary Stu: male OC who reads as a (usually poorly-written, but not always) self-insert by the author.
Genderswap/genderbending: changing the sex of a character.
Headcanon: fan-created events or theories that they adopt as canon without proof in favour or against it.
Het: male/female.
IC: in character.
Mary Sue: see Gary Stu, but the OC is female.
Meta: analytical, academic-style discussion or essay focusing on a fandom-related topic.
Mpreg: male pregnancy.
Non-con: non-consensual.
OC: other/original character invented entirely by the fanfiction author.
Oneshot: one-off fanfiction, usually quite short, not intended to be multi-chapter or part of a series.
OOC: out of character.
OTP: one true pairing – the pairing treasured above all others by a fan.
OT3/4/5/etc: one true threesome/foursome/moresome/etc.
PWP: porn without plot.
Raceswap/racebending: changing the race of a character.
RPF: real person fic, where the fanfiction is about the actors in the movie/TV show, not the characters they play.
Ship: a relationship between two or more characters. Can also be a verb, e.g. “I ship Dramione” = “I like the idea of/support/believe in the romantic relationship between Draco and Hermione”
Ship war: where fans of one ship engage in online warfare with fans of another ship. E.g. Aragorn/Legolas vs. Gimli/Legolas.
Slash: male/male.
Trigger warnings: warning of something that may trigger a negative response in a survivor of unpleasant experiences (e.g. rape, suicide, incest).
UST: unresolved sexual tension.
WIP: writing in progress.

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