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Sage Shadsie's Fan Fiction Genre Guide


Sage of Tales
Genre Guide

The following applies more to fan fiction than to fan art, but it can apply there, too. Creative fandom has its own language which can be confusing to newcomers, so here is an explanation of various genres that may be helpful in labeling and finding an audience for your work. These genres apply across “fandoms” (the various things for which people create fanworks) and are in wide use. These lables can be used to warn people who dislike a particular theme (and thus prevent unwarranted flames). They can also be used to attract people who like particular themes.


General Genres:

These tend to speak for themselves. Think of the movies you watch or of the books you pick up at a bookstore.

Drama - The characters go through hardships and heartaches. The plot may be like a soap-opera, it may be political, it may be an adventure, and it may even come with tragedy.

Adventure/Action – A story that’s very action-packed with a focus on high adventure and a fast pace.

Comedy/Humor – A plot that’s funny, where humor is the focus. The purpose of this kind of story is to make the readers laugh. ‘Nuff said.

Tragedy – Someone dies, goes insane, or otherwise suffers horrifically beyond what simple “drama” can take care of. Usually deals with death. Focus may be on those left behind and mourning.

Romance – What it says on the tin. Two characters fall in love and do sweet things for each other. Kissy-kissy goo-goo. Love that shakes the ages. As sweet or drama-filled as the writer cares to make it.

Horror – Spooky stuff, blood, murder, mayhem. This can range from a gentle, yet creepy ghost story to people running from a psycho with a chainsaw.

Angst – it’s like Tragedy and Drama, but it’s inwardly focused. Generally “character acts emo for the entire plot.”

Hurt/Comfort – One character is hurt/wounded, sick, or in emotional distress and another character or characters helps them through it or helps them to recover. This is often done in conjunction with Romance, but not always.

Friendship – A tale of friends and their caring for one another. (In some fandoms, this label has to be given by the author as a specific note that the two specific characters are *not* a romantic pair in their story, otherwise, most fans will think of them as a pair by default).

Family – Family saga, the tale of a person’s family. Most sitcoms would fit into this (as well as their default comedy slot).

Sci-Fi – Science Fiction. The usually trappings are technology and themes of the future. Sci-Fi can be anywhere from a space travel epic to… an explanation of the evolution of a set of fictional creatures. Can be a fictional putting forth of realistic theories based upon real science, or very wild, improbable stuff set up to explore social science or human psychology.

Western – Brave lawmen, noble outlaws, deserts, guns – anything with an 1800’s frontier feel (no matter the age it’s actually set in). This is an improbable genre for Zelda fan fiction to say the least, but it’s been taken on by a few brave souls, Shadsie included.

Fantasy – Deals with very wild and imaginative things, impossible things, magic and so forth. The Legend of Zelda canon firmly fits into this category already.

DarkFic – You may see this term dropped around sometimes. Generally means “a dark story, a story that deals with dark themes.” Generally the same as Drama/Tragedy/Angst/Horror or any combination of the above.

Fluff – This is another odd term you’ll see around. It’s basically the opposite of dark. Generally romance, but can denote a friendship fic, Fluff is generally “Light, cute, sweet” – meant to make the reader feel good. Fluff fics generally don’t have deep plots, as that is not their purpose.


Pairing Genres:

“Pairings” are romantic (or sometimes just lustful) relationships between two people. Many fan fiction writers and readers write and read based upon particular kinds of pairings. The various “pairing genres” for fan fiction are as follows:

Gen – Gen is “General” and means “a story without pairings of any kind.” Or, at least, a story where a pairing might be mentioned, but it’s very much in the background of the story and not important to the plot.

Het – Het is “Heterosexual” and denotes a story which has a focus upon a male/female couple. A “Link and Zelda” romance story would be het.

Slash – denotes homosexual pairings of the male/male variety. It is sometimes called “yaoi” by readers and writers in Japanese-based fandoms. “Yaoi” may not technically be correct for all stories, as the term was originally based upon a Japanese term denoting “porn without plot.” Not all fan fiction that people label “yaoi” these days falls under pure porn. “Yaoi” is often used interchangeably by anime and Japanese video games fans with “shounen-ai” a “tamer” term meaning simply “boys love.” I find it simpler just to use the Western term of “slash” when denoting these kinds of stories.

Femmeslash – denotes homosexual airings of the female/female variety. “Yuri” is the generally accepted “heavy” Japanese term while “shojo-ai” is the tamer term. Similar to the above, but with two girls instead of two guys.


The One
Sep 3, 2009
Thank you for NOT including selfcest and clonecest and such.

But quite well done, I must say.

What inspired you to create this?


Sage of Tales
Thank you for NOT including selfcest and clonecest and such.

But quite well done, I must say.

What inspired you to create this?

One time, in the shoutbox, I was talking about fanfiction and people got very confused when I was saying stuff like "Oh, it's a gen fic and this other one is het."

I've been writing fan fiction for various things I like for about ten years now and being "in fan fiction writing culture" I've learned to take a lot of terms for granted that apparently are like another language to people who are new to it. I'd forgotten that I had to have some of these terms explained to me at some point. (For the longest time, I didn't know what "slash" meant until someone explained it to me. I also learned that the term has this wierd history going back to early writers who'd write Star Trek stories and circulate them at science fiction conventions before the Internet existed. But, slash isn't a genre I'm fond of, anyway).

Since Zelda Dungeon hasn't a forum for fan writing, I figured that in encouraging people to flex their creative muscles, it might be useful for them to know the terms associated with fan fiction so when they see them elsewhere, they will know what is meant. Also, having this guide around can serve as a reference for those wanting to "warn" for certain content in their stories. Say someone here writes a PG "slash" story - labeling it "slash" will hopefully prevent someone from coming along and saying "Ew! Two guys kissing! I didn't expect this! (Flame, sputter, tantrum)."

So - a dispensing of information and something I hope will keep peace on the board.

I'm slated to be one of the Moderators for this place and already acting like it. (I've asked to be held off on actual promotion because of a personal financial emergency that has come up. It may be nothing and I may be able to stay online, but I may get cut off this week. If that happens, I don't know when I'll be able to get on again. I didn't want to get the Mod postion and then have people emailing me left and right needing me to do stuff if I was unavailble. Hopefully, it will all work out and the problem will be solved soon). As it is, I'm watching this place like a hawk and kinda-sorta acting the part even though I've not been given any official responbilities yet.


Whoo are youu?
Nov 4, 2009
U.S.A., Lost in a forest.
Hey thanks for posting this, I get confused all the time with the terms. I use to think Het was short for only Hentai... :sick: I am glad to have learned that isn't always the case! I noticed you left out lemon, that is a good one to know, so you don't get any nasty surprises...


Sage of Tales
Hey thanks for posting this, I get confused all the time with the terms. I use to think Het was short for only Hentai... :sick: I am glad to have learned that isn't always the case! I noticed you left out lemon, that is a good one to know, so you don't get any nasty surprises...

I never heard it used for Hentai, before. I've only heard "H" used for that, as in "H-manga" and "H-doujinshi" and I believe Hentai applies to all kinds of explicit anime and manga (though I think it is mostly for het, as they use "yaoi" for the explicit m/m stuff). There's also "Ecchi" in regards to anime and manga specifically - it means basically "perverted" but not out and out porn. With ecchi, things are just insinuated, or the sexual stuff goes on with blocked out parts.

Everyone must think I'm a pervert for knowing this stuff... I'm not, I just happen to be familiar with a lot of terms - call it "familiarity with terminology for the sake of avoiding."

Lemon is a fan fiction term - and it basically means "porn is in here."

Lime is a lesser-term - means "stuff that is almost but not quite porn is in here."

Both terms work for all genres. Say you come across a story that's "Zelda/Midna Femmeslash Lemon" - if you decide read it, expect the girls being very naked and doing very naughty things to each other.

Nevermind all that junk I said about modding. I'm not going to be, as far as I know - the forum doesn't need an extra mod right now and, even if I were in mind to do so, I wouldn't be able to. My life is too chaotic and uncertain at the moment for me to take on the responsibility and I don't know when or even if it's going to stabilize. So, while I wanted to mod this place originally, if offered the position, I'd flat out turn it down due to my having too many issues.

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