There are different names for different kinds of fics. Some transfer over to original work, but some are unique to Fanficion. Some kinds are fandom-dependent. So now that you know what you want to write, its time to figure how to describe what you wrote to potential readers.
- The Drabble
A drabble is anything under 500 words. Some are more strict and say anything under 100 words. Either way, these are the short-fics. The ones that tend to be a single scene, or a brief introspection by a character. Something that doesn’t need a lot of detail.
There are shorter challenges in various fandoms for 1 sentence or 3 sentence fics based on prompts, but they all fall under the drabble umbrella.
- The One-Shot
The one shot is a short story. These are usually only a chapter (hence the name), although depending on how the author decides to post up to 3-4 chapters. But it tends to be written as a single entity then divided up for spacial or because they want to give readers eyes a rest. Word counts vary depending on what the person wants to say. This usually anything from 500 words to 2,000 although I have some that are 6,000+. The main indicator of this is that its not meant to be read in a serial format, but rather a single setting.
Now, sometimes stories that are only two chapters (and built that way) are called Two-shots, but usually anything over one chapter isn’t called a X-shot.
Both Drabbles and One-shots are popular on social media as interactive fiction where readers provide prompts.
- The Chapter-Fic
As you can tell, a chapter fic is a story that has chapters. These are usually meant to have chapters, as opposed to the longer one-shots that are divided up for easier consumption rather then any desire by the author to separate into chapters.
Chapter fics can be short, they can be novellas, they can be novels. Occasionally you’ll find chapter fics that fall under epics. Chapter sizes vary by author, just like in professional fiction. Once you get past the one-shot/two-shot area its basically a chapter fic.
Series is usually a group of one-shots that are related in some way, but chapter fics can also come in series, just like store bought books do.
This is fic that is non-romantic (except perhaps in the background), and tends to deal with a non-relationship topic or in platonic relationships, like that between teammates.
Fluff stories are happy stories. Angst are the stories where its not so happy. If you have a fic that has both it can be called Flangst.
This would be shippy fic that is for adult readers. Lemon isn’t used as often as a descriptor, but I usually see that in older fics.
- Whomp (Hurt/Comfort)
A fic whose main purpose is to put a character where they are physically or mentally put through the ringer. If it also includes their recovery from such a situation, it is called Hurt/Comfort although Whomp usually does include both. One of my favorite Stargate Atlantis fanfics is a Whomp fic. The term whomp tends to be used more in action-based fandoms.
- Episode Tag/Missing Scene
Tag fics are usually fics that are filling in the gaps left in an episode. Like a character’s reaction to what happened, or a scene done off screen on the episode that the author wants to explore. These tend to be canon based, although I’ve read a great Mentalist series of one-shots that were tags that put Jane and Lisbon together throughout an entire season they weren’t canonically together. Still kept relatively close to canon.
- Alternate Universe/Parallel Universe/Crossover
As we discussed before, these tend to be stories that take characters out of their traditional environment and put there somewhere new. Like Game of Thrones’ Jaime & Brienne being drift compatible. The ever popular “Lets put the characters in high school/College” trope. Or Angel and the gang wind up in Colorado meeting Samantha Carter about Goa’uld.
- Warning Based Descriptors
Warning based descriptors are a group of descriptive terms used to warn readers about the content. Some common descriptors are:
Non-Con stands for Non-consensual, and usually relates to a sexual scene but not always. A related descriptor is Dubious Consent where consent might be argued either way by the author and/or reader.
Character Death denotes that the story either focuses on a character’s death, or the reactions of the character. It is always a good idea to tag your story with this if a major character does die, even if it isn’t the focus. Especially if you tag that character as part of the story.
Any element of your story that might make someone uncomfortable or trigger anxiety or worse should be tagged. Things like torture, graphic depictions of violence, rape scenes, stories relating to traumatic events such as miscarriage, domestic violence, violence in general, psychological trauma. One of my favorite fandom specific tags for this is Ramsey is his own warning on the Game of Thrones section of AO3. Ramsey Snow-Bolton is a character who does pretty much all the bad things so his simple involvement often means something bad is about to go down.
Just remember to be considerate and warn people in your tag descriptors or summery about anything that might trigger anxiety/PTSD. Even a simple “Canon-typical violence” is a good tag to warn people there is violence in your story. Putting such things in your tags and/or summery allows people to not click on it if they know it will give them problems.
Also its a good idea to make use of any archive’s rating system if they have one. Both AO3 and Fanfiction.net, two of the more popular archives, have ratings systems designed to give an idea of what kind of an audience the writer intends. Some archives won’t post fiction over a certain rating, so look into it.