Rad Reads

Everything you need to know about the world of fanfiction

Have you ever been rereading your fave book or watching an ah-mazing new Netflix series and thought, "If I was in charge, that *never* would have happened?"

Well, good news! There is an entire online world where you can read (or write) stories about all the movies, shows and books you love. Whether you wish Blair had ended up with Nate or want to see which Percy Jackson character would win the Hunger Games, fanfiction has it all. Written for fans *by* fans, we're here to answer all your Q's about the world of fanfiction. 

The big three: Where to read fanfiction

The first and arguably most important step of finding a fic is finding a site to read it on. Here are the three biggest fanfiction sites taking over the internet.

Archive of Our Own: Nicknamed Ao3 and including five million users and nearly 10 million works, Archive of Our Own is an amazing site to find long-form, quality fics. With its easy-to-access tag system (more on those later) and diverse collection of fandoms, Ao3 is one of the most talked about fanfiction sites and is considered by many the superior choice. The site's only con is that there is no corresponding mobile app, and most readers find it easiest to access on a computer. Ao3 may be a great choice if you're looking to read a novel-like fic. And the best part? There are no ads! 

@snapeisdead NO BECAUSE WTF WAS THIS SCENE #harrypotter #ao3 #wattpad #fanfiction #wolfstar #hp #harrypottertok #marauders #atyd #maraudersera #ff #gay #lgbtq ♬ harry philosopher potter - marauders

Wattpad: If you've only ever heard of one fanfiction platform, it's likely that Wattpad is the one you know. With works from the platform turned into IRL novels before hitting the big screen (hint: The Kissing Booth and After), the site is pretty well known in mainstream media. However, Wattpad isn't always known for having the most high-quality writing, and it can be difficult to find a particular piece due to the general clunkiness of the tagging and search systems. On the flip side, it's definitely possible to discover a fic you'll love—it might just take a little trial and error. But once you do, you'll have access to an active community of readers and writers, all available through the website or mobile app. 

@wattpad Despite being the internet's biggest fanfiction forum and archive, may not be talked about much, but it's a great place to find stories and connect with your fandom's community. The fics are well organized, so finding a whole collection of stories centered around a certain idea can be super simple. If you're interested in dipping your toes into the writing side of fanfiction, is the perfect place to start. The website makes it easy to find fellow writers in your niche thanks to the large forum and PM systems. The site also has a corresponding app, making it easy to access on mobile. 

The *ultimate* fanfic glossary

No doubt, the world of fanfiction can be a little overwhelming. We're here to help you sort out all those foreign terms and phrases...

Tag: A genre or story characteristic that fanfic writers use to describe their fanfiction. Reading the tags on a fic will make it easier to find a story you're interested in.

AU: Stands for "Alternate Universe." This is a type of tag that indicates that the story takes place in a different universe from the original media—for example, MCU characters in a "coffee shop AU" or Stranger Things characters in a "Hogwarts AU."

Angst: A type of tag that indicates that the story includes sad, heartwrenching elements or plot points. This can range from "light angst" (mild heartbreak) to "heavy angst" (grab the tissues).

Fluff: A type of tag that indicates that the story includes happy, lighthearted elements or plot points. A fluffy fanfic will give you alllll the warm and fuzzy feelings!

OTP: Stands for "One True Pairing." Your OTP is your favorite ship (AKA romantic pairing of characters) of all time. Percabeth, anyone?

Canon: True to the original media. Plot points, characters, settings, etc. that exist in the original media are considered canon. Therefore something non-canon would divulge from the media's original plot or change the story's canonical order. 

Headcanon: Something a fan imagines to be true in the universe of the original media. For example, a headcanon could be an added character trait or backstory.

Now that you've learned everything there is to know about the likes of Wattpad and shipping, you're ready to take a deep dive into your fave fandoms. We're certain that you'll find the best fanfictions with your comfort characters and OTPs. Happy fangirling!

Let us know your fictional OTP on Twitter @girlslifemag!

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Slider image: @victoriacastora


by Jinny Kim and Madeline Morrow | 9/24/2022