Dictionary of the Damned

Here you will find a collection of common terminology used in fanfiction, as well as explanations of certain mechanics the critics employ.  This is a good place to come if you have no idea what we’re talking about.

* * / / : : When you see something inserted between any of those symbols, it’s the writer attempting to indicate an action.  Often, you will see the Snark Crew use them while critiquing stories.  However, some terrible fanfiction writers will also use this method of relaying action instead of typing it out. This is poor form in prose, but since our riffs are largely the “dialogue” of the one doing the riff, they’re written in a more script-like format.

A Word: A snarky way of pointing out that a word was accidentally omitted from a sentence (e.g. saying “I think you a word there, author” instead of “I think you missed/skipped/whatever a word”)

A/N: See “Author’s Note”

AU: Alternate Universe. There are several kinds of AU, but the basic concept is to deliberately change something in the original story so that a new story can be told based on the change. This often involves moving the characters to another setting (usually a high school for some mystifying reason), altering the outcome of a critical moment in the original story’s plot, or making some change to the story’s premise.

Author’s Note:  A note made by the author of the fic, usually to either clarify something or as a “shout-out” to the readers. Usually unnecessary. Although best left as a note before and/or after the chapter content, some authors – for reasons unknown besides insanity – will insert an author’s note in the middle of the chapter. Usually (but not always) enclosed in brackets or parentheses, and/or written in italics, boldface, or ALL CAPS to differentiate it from the narration of the fic.  It is often abbreviated as A/N or AN.

Awesome McEvil: An over the top evil villain, generally s/he is the best ever at being evil and doing evil things. All the bad things in the world are secretly his/her doing, and s/he is behind every little plot against the protagonists. Such a villain often spends all his/her free time twirling his/her handlebar mustache (additionally, being female does not preclude one from having a twirlable handlebar mustache). Even with his/her superior villain-y skills, the protagonist Mary Sue/Gary Stu character often easily thwarts him/her using puerile ruses. Alternately, Awesome McEvils, despite their perfection, often make critical mistakes at just the right moment and thwart their own plans.

Backlog of Doom: A large quantity of fully written riffs that will take an excessively long time to post if they only come out once a week. BatJamags is responsible for the Backlog of Doom but other riffers have adopted the term as well.

Badfic: Our bread and butter: A bad fanfic. See Fanfic.

Because Reasons: A phrase often used by the Librarians to explain the actions or motivations of a character in a fic when the fic fails to provide any explanation.  Alternatively written as “Because blue.”

Beta/Beta Reader: A proof-reader, or editor, that is supposed to help a fic-writer get their story up to par before they post it.  Most of the stories here either have had no Beta, or they have a very, very bad one.

Blaring Alarm: The Department of Redundancy Department’s redundancy monitoring alarm.  The alarm goes off and “blares” whenever a redundancy is detected, calling in a strike team to assault the fic.  The alarm has displayed varying levels of sentience over the years though it’s true level of self-awareness is unknown. In some situations, individuals have been demonstrated to wield authority over the alarms – for example, sometimes alarms are silenced from being glared at, or being told off for being annoying.

Brick-O-Text:  A long paragraph composed of several passages arbitrarily lumped together without any consideration for the flow of the narration. Similar in nature to the Wall-O-Text.

Brick to the Head/Skull: When a fic’s narrative or character’s dialogue starts out coherently, but then suddenly and without warning becomes a jumbled mess of words, as though they suffered a head wound while speaking. It’s often SC who spots these, and he often blames it on his OC, Book Specs, for throwing the bricks in question out of spite.

Canon: The universe as it existed in the original story and all official material connected thereto. Some fanfic writers will try to write their story such that it could have happened in canon, which is the opposite of an AU.

Catastrophization: To jump to an extreme conclusion based on unimportant or irrelevant information, or to have an overly dramatic reaction to a mundane event or situation. Fanfic authors will often ignore major plot problems in favor of catastrophizing insignificant issues.

Celebrian Zone: Many grimdark, fetish, and troll-fics like to spam the reader with gory or offensive elements for pure shock value. When the plot grinds to a stop so that these scenes can play out over and over again often with little variation between them, they stop eliciting any emotional reaction from the reader whatsoever and instead simply become boring– the ‘fic has overshot shock value completely, and landed itself in the Celebrian Zone.
Named after the Lord of the Rings smutfic Celebrian, which is infamously difficult for riffers to get through not because its endless descriptions of elf-torture are disturbing (though they are) but because they are so incredibly repetitive.

Chameleon: A character whose name or appearance changes every time the author uses or describes it, usually due to misspelling and/or lazy writing.

Character Blob: A group of two or more characters that are referred to or act as if they were a single entity. Usually comes up when multiple characters have a single line of dialogue attributed to them as though they’d all spoken collectively like some kind of hive mind. Usually a sign that the author can’t be bothered to think of the characters separately or even to pick one to say the line.

Crappypasta: Slang for a really bad Creepypasta.

Creepypasta: An attempt at an original urban legend, sometimes based on fandoms (Squidward’s Suicide), sometimes based on elements of real-life history (Nazi and Lovecraft), often ripped-off of other Creepypasta (I’ll Protect You), and, on occasion, made as an original work (Jeff the Killer).  They pretty much usually all suck, regardless of their source material.

Cross-Over: When a fic is written using two or more different source materials.  For example, if someone took characters from Harry Potter and wrote them into Twilight, that would be a Harry Potter / Twilight Cross-Over fic.  There are some pretty outrageous, and highly amusing, combinations out there due to this phenomena. Often abbreviated as x-over.

Daybook Writing:  A style of writing in which the author is simply listing things that happened instead of describing and/or analyzing them in detail, similar to recording an entry in a diary or daybook. Based upon a Chinese term used by Patron/Guest Librarian SuperFeatherYoshi, “流水账”, which literally translates as “daybook”.

DCA: See Department of Contradictions Agency/Department of Contradictions Bureau.

DCB: See Department of Contradictions Agency/Department of Contradictions Bureau.

Department of Contradictions Agency/Department of Contradictions Bureau: A counterpart to the DRD (See Department of Redundancy Department) that responds to contradictions rather than redundancies. Where the DRD tends to repeat themselves and do everything twice, the DCA/DCB (the two names are used interchangeably) does everything two different, mutually exclusive ways. Their incursions are often both peaceful and violent, and sometimes they don’t do anything at all while taking decisive action. Their incursions are usually heralded by the sound effect *Silent alarms blare*. See Blaring Alarm for the DRD equivalent.

Department of Redundancy Department: A regulatory agency that regulates the use of repetitive language. The Snark Crew will often discourage the DRD from interrupting a good riff by using a variety of methods to discourage them. Sometimes, all attempts to discourage the DRD simply don’t work, or they go after the comments section because the riffer failed to spot a redundancy that somebody else picked up on. They have installed several quasi-sentient alarms all over the Library in order to monitor redundancies and call in strike teams if any are detected.  See Blaring Alarm.

Disclaimer: Most fanfic authors will include a short disclaimer at the beginning of their fic – sometimes before each individual chapter – that essentially states that they do not own the canon characters, items, or settings that appear in the fic in the erroneous belief that this will protect them from any legal action should the original author(s) of the work choose to file suit against them (something which would be a complete waste of time on the part of such authors but would technically be successful with or without a disclaimer). This often includes some variation of “I own nothing!” Occasionally they are humorous, most often they are not.

Discount Magic Mod Wand: A somewhat less all-powerful arcane device, probably purchased during a half-off sale at a secondhand store, and wielded by moderator members of the site (SC, BatJamags, AdmiralSakai) for the purposes of magically screwing with people’s comments and posts. It coughs a lot and sparks at random, but it’s a tough old beastie and reliable in a pinch. Administrative members (Lyle, TacoMagic, GhostCat, Herr Wozzeck) have access to the significantly more powerful Magical Admin Wand.

Douchebandonment: A plot device many fic authors use in an attempt to make their protagonist seem selfless and brave, when in reality it paints them as selfish and douchey.  This is when the protagonist leaves everyone they know behind because they think it will protect those they love, when in reality it would really leave those people more open to attack as no one would be around that could protect them.  It is an act of cowardice by the protagonist because they’re too scared to man-up.

Dramapology: An act of anger, usually a verbal outburst, that is followed swiftly by a request for forgiveness that negates any conflict that might arise from the exchange.

DRD: See Department of Redundancy Department.

Edge: A style of writing which focuses on heavy-handed grittiness, violence, darkness, and moodiness. Edgy writing is the misinformed idea that excessive cynicism, foul language, and blood and gore make for a more mature, compelling story, when in reality it makes the story seem sophomoric and tryhardy. The common form of mockery is a warning not to “cut [one’s self] on all that edge.”

Edgelord: A character who the author thinks is cool, dark, and mysterious, but who comes off as rude, antisocial, hell-bent on one-upping everybody, and is otherwise difficult or impossible to take seriously, especially when other members of the cast start admiring or adoring them even though they’ve been given no reason to feel such things. Common traits of an edgelord include possession of one or more swords (particularly katanas) or guns, or other such weaponry especially ones that are out of the ordinary in the given canon; a tendency towards dark colors (especially red and black; preferring to stand away from others in the first available shadowy corner; being clad head to toe in body armor or casual attire which seems to serve little purpose other than being flashy; either wearing a face-concealing hat or mask, or having ridiculous hairdos inspired by Japanese animation habits; an insistence towards extreme, often needless violence and disdaining anybody who holds themselves back or calls them out for it; faux-philosophical waxing; sudden gaining of powers for the sake of being better than the person who is best suited for a given situation; and brow-beating both enemy and ally alike, oftentimes without warrant. Somewhat similar to the Tsundere, but with none of the potential redeeming qualities, since the edgelord’s negative traits are supposed to be cool and likable in themselves, while the Tsundere’s are supposed to be a front for the likable traits.

Emo Sue/Stu: A character who has over-the-top personal damage or tragic past. For instance, a character who has parents that died in an accident which said Emo feels responsible for, a brother that Emo accidentally killed when they were children, a spouse who killed themselves because the Emo Sue/Stu wasn’t attentive enough, and a collection of suppressed memories of Emo being raped by random uncles. Often these characters will spend a great portion of their free time agonizing over all the faults/damage of their past. Usually such a character is also a Mary Sue/Gary Stu (see appropriate definition below), and this personal damage was folded in after the fact as a misguided attempt to give the character more depth, but it tends to actually be a poorly veiled play at garnering pity/empathy/sympathy for the protagonist.

Fanfiction: A story using characters, worlds, ideas, etc from a pre-existing source material written by a fan of that particular work.  See also: fanfic, fic

Fanfic: A shortened way of referring to fanfiction, because typing out the word fanfiction can be irritating.  See also: fic

Fic: Just another shortened version of the term fanfiction.  See also: fanfic

FINO (Fanfic in Name Only): Essentially an AU taken to its illogical extreme, a FINO features next to nothing from the original work save, typically, for a few characters with the same names (and likely no connection to their original personalities or backgrounds). The litmus test for this sort of ‘fic is whether one can do a simple find-and-replace for the canonical terms and then get the result published as a completely original work (although probably still not a very good one). A ready example is Master of the Universe aka Fifty Shades of Gray, a purported Twilight ‘fic with no vampires, no werewolves, Bella Swan as a college-aged reporter and Edward Cullen as a Fortune 500 CEO heavily into (what he thinks is) BDSM. The syndrome was first identified by BatJamags in The Yule Tree.

First-Person: A story narrated by one of its characters in terms of “I” and “me,” as though they’re personally recounting the events to the reader or keeping a diary.

Fluff: Term for cutesy romantic interactions with no actual intercourse (implied or graphic).  This is the First-Base of fanfiction romance. See also: Lemon, Lime. Unlike those two, however, Fluff can even be platonic in nature.

Formless Void: When the author has made no attempt to describe the space the characters occupy, assuming that the reader already knows what it looks like. May extend to the physical appearance of characters as well.

Fourth Wall: The fourth wall separates the fictional world the characters inhabit from the real world. You, the reader, are hiding behind the fourth wall. If  a fic ignores this boundary between the real and fictional worlds, it is considered to be “breaking” the fourth wall.  When a character breaks the fourth wall deliberately, they will attempt to interact with the narrator or the reader as though they could actually talk to them. You see this a lot in old Looney Toon cartoons when Bugs Bunny turns to the screen and says something as though talking to the audience (often “Ain’t I a stinker?”). Many fanfic authors see comedic characters like Deadpool do this and attempt to imitate it.  This usually ends poorly.

Fragile Sue/Stu: A Mary Sue or Gary Stu who receives substantial injuries on a regular basis despite having the standard Sue/Stu traits of being awesome at everything. A very popular character in the hurt/comfort genre.

Fridge Logic: When something is written into a story that seems good at the time but, in retrospect, is completely and utterly ridiculous.  TVTropes does a pretty good job of describing this here.

Gary Stu/Mary Sue: A character who receives unjustifiable special treatment from the narrative. Usually an original character introduced to an existing canon, whose existence the rest of the fic exists to facilitate. Common traits include immediately falling in love with (or rather, being fallen in love with by) the author’s favorite character (or every character), being an over-the-top badass in a way that’s tonally incongruous with the setting (like a character dual-wielding katanas in Middle Earth), being a previously unmentioned relative of a canon character, and having a large number of irrelevant skills (often by way of one-upping canon characters). Generally (but not always) a form of wish fulfillment or power fantasy. A major red flag is if the author refers to them as “my character,” as if they were their personal game piece in the story, like the player character of a video game (which can verge on Suedom but isn’t necessarily one because the player does not also control the rest of the world and thus is not really the “author”).

Gary Stumanity: In space-based settings with multiple alien species, the human race may be portrayed as an entire civilization of Gary Stus, also referred to as “HFY” (“Humanity Fuck Yeah”) writing. Gary Stumanity typically has a massive industrial, technological, and tactical advantage over every other species with no logical explanation for how it got that way; hates all or nearly all aliens (“friendly” aliens or ones portrayed as victims of other, more powerful forces in the source material may be exempted and portrayed as allies or client states of Gary Stumanity) and will go to war with them at the slightest provocation; and always wins. Oftentimes human culture is portrayed with extremely militaristic or outright fascist overtones, but the humans are always claimed to be morally in the right. Some sort of major disaster or alien invasion earlier in future-history is frequently used to ‘justify’ this behavior. Commonly found in crossovers.

Guest Riffer: A riffer who is not a full member of the Library, but who submits riff entries of their own on the days when a full member is incapable of supplying a post.

Headdesk:  When a member of the Snark Crew is so unbelievably floored by the terribleness of what they’re reading that their head meets their desks with a resounding thud.

Hurt/Comfort: A popular genre of fanfiction, the plot revolves around a protagonist who becomes injured or ill and a secondary protagonist (who may or may not be the one who injured or infected the primary protagonist) who take cares of them. The pairing usually involves some manner of Sue/Stu in one of the roles and the author’s favorite canon character in the other. It may also be a mechanism for shipping two canon characters.

IC: In Character.  When a character is actually behaving as they might in the original source material, they are staying “In Character.”  Antonym of OOC.

Implied Romantic Reciprocation: When shared romantic feelings between two characters are never established, but the relationship is treated as a given fact. This is seen when one character falls in love with another and, even though the second character’s feelings are never explored (or, in some cases, the receiving party gives the cold shoulder or is outright hostile in retaliation), a romantic relationship develops.

Lemon: A fic that contains graphic sexual content, most likely poorly-written graphic sexual content. See also: Lime, Fluff.

Lime: A fic that contains mild explicit content but characters do not engage in actual intercourse. The mid-ground between a fluff fic and a lemon. See also: Lemon, Fluff.

Magic Admin Wand: An all-powerful arcane device which allows administrative members of the site (Lyle, TacoMagic, GhostCat, Herr Wozzeck) to magically screw around with people’s posts and comments and whatnot. Prepare to have your hand slapped if you try and touch it without permission. Moderator members (SC, BatJamags, AdmiralSakai) have a similarly powerful, though somewhat crippled version of this, known as the Discount Magic Mod Wand.

Moon Spiders: Based on this one-shot riff, the Librarians have determined that there is a race of alien spiders who live on the moon and can only be placated by feeding them excessively precise timekeeping. This is as logical an explanation as any for why some authors (especially those of Creepypasta) insist on detailing the passage of time down to the second when doing so is not relevant. See also: White Rabbiting.

Murphy’s Riffing Law: If a riffer or commentator claims that they predict that next the ‘fic will have something outrageously stupid happen, as a hyperbolic joke that is not intended to be a serious prediction, then there is a better than average chance that the ‘fic will actually do that very same ridiculous thing later on and be absolutely serious about it. This generally leads to a great deal of consternation on the part of whoever made the original prediction.

Narcolepscene: When an author’s characters are constantly falling asleep in order to change the scene.  The character(s) seem to have an overwhelming case of narcolepsy and the author seems unable to find a better way to progress the story except for “And then they all went to bed.”

Nothing Fic: Unlike Nothing-Narrative below, which has an ongoing sequence of events even if they have no actual point, a Nothing Fic has no substance whatsoever, often consisting a single uninteresting scene with no context or significance. These may occasionally attempt to be humorous, but never successfully. A genuinely, unironically humorous oneshot has a point — namely, being humorous — and therefore is by definition not a Nothing Fic. These are particularly common in relation to holidays, as numerous Halloween- and Christmas-themed oneshot riffs will attest.

Nothing-Narrative: A plotless fic, one which meanders from scene to scene with no defined purpose and thus is extremely dull and boring. Essentially a string of tenuously related scenes which, if taken independently of one another, might constitute Nothing Fics.

OC:  Original Character. A character invented by the fic’s author and not found in the source material’s canon. Often some form of Sue/Stu. Other common varieties in badfics include Awesome McEvils, underdeveloped love interests, and obnoxious would-be comic relief characters. Good fanfics may also include one or more original characters in order to satisfy the premise of the story or needs of the plot.

OOC: Out of Character. When a canon character is not acting as they would within the established canon of the source material. Antonym of IC.

One-Shot: A fanfiction with only one chapter. One-shots are often a single scene, although some are longer. They typically are only a few pages long at most. Not to be confused with a fic left unfinished by the author; a one-shot is intended to be brief.

Plot Contrivance Corporation (PCC): A fictitious company that provides all the contrived equipment, locations, and scenarios that make contrived plots possible. Among their more popular inventions are the Unlimited Bag of Useful Items (UBUI), which can produce exactly what the protagonist needs in any given situation, and the Datapad of Endless Knowledge (DEK) which is a modernized version of the Tome of Endless Knowledge (TEK); both function as know-all repositories of only the most pertinent information to prevent all that pesky research characters might otherwise have to do.

Plot Regurgitation: When a fic author has decided that, instead of picking an original plot for their story, they merely use the exact timeline (and even dialogue) from the source material.  This method of fic-writing is incredibly boring as it adds no originality to the fic. At this point, you might as well just read/watch the original source material. It generally comes up by way of an anemic AU which merely adds the author’s Mary Sue or Gary Stu to the story, despite that character’s presence not substantially affecting or altering the original story’s events. It tends to happen because the author doesn’t want to put in the effort of planning an original plot, and so feels obligated to reproduce the original plot, which cannot be substantially altered without forcing the author to create new plot points based on new circumstances.

Pretty Ugly Girl: A Mary Sue that is described as ‘not as pretty’ as everyone else, even though she’s gorgeous.  This is a method often used to gain pity, such as Emo Sue, or in a disillusioned hope that the readers will relate more to the protagonist.  Typically, Pretty Ugly Girls attract every major male protagonist and antagonist in a story, all while lamenting how hideous she is and wondering why she can’t land a boyfriend.

Possessed Sue/Stu: A canon character who is “hijacked” by the author and turned into a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. This usually involves excessive changes to the canon character’s personality, life, and wardrobe (not that the latter is as important as the former two, but many writers seem to think it is) that make the character essentially an original one. See also: Mary Sue, Gary Stu.

POV: Point of View. This is the perspective the story is being narrated from. Third-person point of view is considered standard, so the subject is usually only addressed when the story is in first-person. POV is sometimes indicated by a POV tag before the narration.

POV Tag: Placed in front of a section of narration and used to indicate whose perspective the narration is in rather than using the narration itself to inform the reader. It is often only the character’s name coupled with POV, but occasionally a longer Author’s Note is included as well.

Punctuation Shotgun: When an author has randomly placed punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons throughout their body of work – often incorrectly.

Reader Fic: A story that attempts to make the reader the protagonist. Definitions are somewhat confused, as some use the term interchangeably with stories narrated in second person. However, a true reader fic will rely on excessive vagueness or jarring fill-in-the-blank-style tags (like using [Y/N] in place of the protagonist’s name) to allow the reader to mentally “fill in” personal information. Some of these are even in third-person and are only delineated as Reader Fics by their use of such tags. In either case, it is at best highly difficult to write one of these well, and doing so usually entails making so many assumptions about the reader that it might as well have not been a reader fic at all.

Rich and Chunky: A writing style where the story goes on at length about one particular point for a prolonged period, typically exposition or something else we don’t actually care about, often belaboring the same basic ideas over and over again in slightly different ways. Contrast with Textwall, which is a similar trial of endurance but related to how the story is physically formatted on the page as opposed to the topic. Walls of Text are, however, the natural habitat of Rich, Chunky exposition.

SC-Style Infodumps: When a riffer or commenter (perhaps even a fic author, if you’re (un)lucky) provides a heavily researched and detailed description of some relevant concept, usually the canon the fic is based on, in order to make a point, inform the reader, or provide general amusement. Named for the member of the Snark Crew of the same initials, SC, who started doing this from his very first riff as a guest riffer onwards into the present.

Scoop: Some Librarians and patrons will make comments as they read a riff so they remember what they wanted to say and to avoid spoilers. This can lead to someone making a joke or observation that someone else already made. We call this scooping, like when one reporter gets a good story before another can. The one who gets scooped is usually Bats, occasionally SC or Sakai, rarely Taco, and almost never anyone else. The one doing the scooping is also usually one of that group.
Somewhat more rarely, a Librarian might make a sarcastic comment attributing claiming that next the ‘fic will have something hyperbolically, ridiculously stupid happen… only for the ‘fic to actually do so.

Second-Person: A very rare narration style favored by choose-your-own-adventure books and tabletop RPG game masters in which the audience is addressed as if they are the protagonist, using the word “you” to describe the protagonist’s actions. Functionally very similar to first-person, but may leave more personal thoughts out to allow the audience to fill in their own observations. Reader fics love this.

Sentenceograph: A body of text long enough to be a paragraph but only containing a single period at the end or no period and just a line break to the next paragraph.  This can be either because the paragraph contains a single run-on sentence or because the author simply didn’t punctuate the other sentences.

Shark Jump: “Jumping the shark” is a term originating in the TV industry for a moment when a show reaches a certain stupidity critical mass and can no longer be taken seriously (or, if it was already bad, can be taken even less seriously, like a boring show that becomes so bad it’s good in an attempt to capture the viewer’s interest). Any given series or other story can usually only have one shark jump, from which there is no coming back, but some manage to jump the shark and then find another opportunity to sink even lower.

Ship: Abbreviation of relationship.  An intense devotion to a particular character or character relationship, either in-canon or out-of-canon. Many fanfic authors who ship particular relationships will write fics specifically to indulge in shipping those character pairings, often indicated in the fic summary by a portmanteau of the shipped couple’s names. (SpongeBob + Patrick = Spongerick). Most slashfics and lemons are the work of shippers. Not necessarily a bad thing, since most writers who include romance in their stories presumably ship the romantic partners. That said, shipping is perhaps even more common a source of badfics than Mary Sues, and the two go hand-in-hand, with Sues often existing solely to be shipped with the author’s favorite character.

Show, Don’t Tell: The Library’s unofficial mantra, often used when the author of a fanfic simply gives information to the audience (for example, using a POV Tag to indicate perspective) rather than revealing it to them through the narration.

Sinus Enema: This is when something you’ve read is hilarious to the point that whatever you’re drinking will come shooting out of your nose.  This is often also referenced indirectly by mentioning having to clean [drink] from your keyboard or your computer screen.

Situationally Dependent Quantum Flux (SDQF): When characters or objects are put into a state of pure entropic energy held at a point just before matter cohesion. This allows them to appear and disappear from a scene based on whether or not the plot currently needs them to exist. Generally this occurs without noted transition from a previous state, such a drawing a sword twice, or having somebody who isn’t in the room suddenly start talking to the characters. It also allows characters to be observed in two places at once or travel distances in seemingly impossibly small amounts of time. This phenomena can also be observed in D&D campaigns when characters suddenly remember that they have a familiar or pet, often several hours into a game session.  It should be noted that this is related to Quantum Linear Superposition, which allows characters to teleport to other parts of the same scene when such a shift in spacial reference is convenient to the plot.

To summarize:  When a character appears out of nowhere because the authors needs that character without planning ahead or disappears suddenly because the author forgot the character was in the scene and didn’t need him any more.

Situationally Specific Superpowers: A particular skill or ability that a character will suddenly remember possessing or spontaneously develop exactly when it is needed and never use or make reference to again. May be an actual superpower (ability to fly, ability to swim in lava) or an ability the character would not normally possess (a five-year-old with knowledge of advanced quantum physics, a bear who can play the oboe).

Slash/Slashfic:  Stories focusing on romantic relationships between same-gendered characters. See also: Yaoi and Yuri.

Snark: Witty sarcasm, often directed toward high levels of suck.

Snarkers: People who dish out snark to those who deserve it.

Snerk: A snorting sound made out of derision or sarcastic amusement.

Snip / Snipping: The act of simply skipping over and removing text from a ‘fic being riffed instead of riffing it. This is generally done because the text in question is boring and/or repetitive to the point where even riffing won’t make it entertaining to read or provide any criticism that can’t be accomplished elsewhere. More rarely it might be because the section is so disgusting that it clashes with even the Library’s standards, or (very rarely) because it’s actually pretty good and worth reading in the original context.

Source Material: An original work of fiction – such as a book, video game, movie, or television show – that serves as the inspiration for a fanfic. See also: Word of God

Stingy Sue/Stu: An overpowered character or characters whose abilities are readily transferable to other people — typically technology that others could be shown how to manufacture, but also technological or magical artifacts where the Sue/Stu has access to a large number of ‘spares’, or just skills that can easily be taught — but who refuses to share those powers with allies (because then the character wouldn’t be special any more). Sometimes the idea of sharing is brought up but rejected for needlessly paranoid or just plain nonsensical reasons; other times the thought just never occurs to anyone in the story. Often results in people and even entire civilizations the Sue/Stu claims to care about and want to protect being placed in unnecessary danger because they are denied abilities that would give them a decisive advantage. For situations where there are good reasons why nobody else can do what the character does, but then when they are needed most the character just leaves, see Douchebandonment.

Stu-over: A crossover where one canon’s characters and factions are portrayed as stronger, more knowledgeable, more moral, or just generally better than the other canon’s. This often overlaps with Gary Stumanity, with the author porting one sci-fi franchise’s futuristic humans into another franchise (usually Mass Effect) to prove how much “better” they are than the second franchise’s resident aliens. The trend has been observed for a while, but was named by BatJamags and AdmiralSakai in the comments to 2165: Fight For Freedom — Oneshot.

Sturgeon’s Law: Also known as Sturgeon’s Revelation, it states that “ninety percent of everything is crud.” Actually a response to the accusation that ninety percent of science fiction is crud (the point being that the genre can’t be condemned on this basis because it is not unique or uncommon in this regard). Applies similarly to fanfiction: ninety percent of it is fodder for the Library, and the remaining ten percent ranges from mediocre to genius.

Sudden Scene Shift (SSS): A sudden and inexplicable change in setting, often from one paragraph to the next, with no attempt made to transition between the two.

Suddenly And From Behind (SAFB): An extremely common method of introducing characters or objects into a scene, often used in a mistaken attempt to add drama or suspense to a fic.

Super Sue/Stu: A Mary Sue or Gary Stu with superpowers, often out-of-canon from the source material. Most of a Super Sue/Stu’s superpowers will be situation-specific – they will appear suddenly, be used for a particular reason, and never be referenced again.

Tarzan Grammar: Bad writing style where ‘fic leave out pronouns, definite articles, or auxiliary verbs, and not conjugate verbs. Also have sentence fragments. Make author sound like raised by apes. Usually a one-off error as a result of A Word.

Thesaurus Abuse/Plundering: When the author uses over-the-top, colorful, often misused words to describe what is going on instead of relying on simpler but more appropriate phrasing. For example, when it may seem better to merely say, “Her eyes were a stunning shade of blue,” the author instead writes, “Her cobalt orbs were a splendorous hue that sparkled like magnanimous sapphires in a pale moonlight.” Complicated words can be useful and evocative, but are not an end in themselves and should be used properly and generally only when a simpler word would not have the same effect. In short, using big words well is not thesaurus abuse. Using big words in a way that shows you don’t know how to use them is.

They Got Better: When a character is seriously injured or dies, often multiple times, but is restored to perfect health with little or no explanation given.

Third-Person: A kind of narration which is not from the perspective of a character in the story (so the words “I” and “me” will generally not appear outside of quotation marks). See also: Third-Person Limited and Third-Person Omniscient.

Third-Person Limited: A sort of hybrid style which works mechanically like third-person, but will only explain the thoughts and experiences of one particular character like first-person. This is the most common kind of narration in professional fiction. Note that the viewpoint character need not be the same person in every chapter, but should generally have some kind of scene or chapter break to delineate the shift in perspective. Compare The Lord of the Rings trilogy (which shifts between several characters once the protagonists split up) with the Harry Potter series (which is written in third-person, but rarely if ever stops following Harry’s thoughts and experiences).

Third-Person Omniscient: A “purer” third-person style that was common in the 19th century but is used less often recently. In this case, the narrator “knows” everything that’s happening and what every character is thinking and feeling, and will present more of this information to the reader than the third-person limited narrator.

Timesquiggle: When a fic’s timeline is confused and inconsistent. This may involve errors in the sequence or relative timing of events, when the story takes place, misunderstandings of when the canon story takes place, or inconsistent or impossible ages for the characters.

Troll: A fic writer that has purposefully written a complete pile of decomposing detritus not even worthy of an out-house. May be some sort of obtuse parody (with good parodies generally being a bit more obvious than the average trollfic), or perhaps just a way of getting a rise out of people. Most Troll-fics are short and, thus, not too difficult to spot. There are some fics out there so terrible, and so long, that it makes us hope it’s really the work of a dedicated Troll because, honestly, how can someone be that bad of a writer?

Tsundere: A Japanese term for a character archetype wherein the character is outwardly hostile towards others (Tsun-Tsun), but has a hidden soft side that is slowly but surely coaxed out over time (Dere-Dere). Usually, the reason for this erratic behavioral pattern has to do with past trauma in that character’s life, or other negative stimuli such as feelings of inferiority or being the subject of mockery and scorn and thus deciding to “live down” to expectations. This is a very popular archetype with badfic authors, in particular for romantic purposes, and they will often attempt to emulate it, but typically fail and instead wind up creating something wholly insufferable. Worse yet, this botched attempt at a tsundere character will likely also be a Sue/Stu, and everybody in the world around them will only encourage their foul attitudes. A somewhat similar concept to the Edgelord, though a tsundere character theoretically has the ability to become likable after a fashion based on the “hidden” positive traits, which an Edgelord generally does not have.

Wall-O-Dialogue: When the author of the fic uses little to no descriptive text. Instead, the entire story is composed of dialogue, which is usually poorly attributed, meaning it’s hard to tell who’s talking even thought talking is the only thing that’s happening.

Wall-O-Text: When the fanfic author has neglected to use paragraph breaks, indentations, or anything at all to suggest the written material is not one long, continuous thought. Contrast with Rich And Chunky, which is a similar trial of endurance but related to the conceptual content of the story as opposed to its physical format.

White Rabbiting: When an author uses exact measurements of time to describe the passage of time to the extent where they seem obsessed with punctuality. See also: Moon Spiders.

Word of God: Information from the author(s) or developer(s) of the original source material that does not appear in the source material but may still arguably be considered canon. Word of God often fills in gaps in the fantasy world of the source material, or helps clarify things that were implied but never explicitly stated within the source material.

Yaoi: Japanese term for male-male romantic relationships.  Typically used in the anime genre but it’s branched out to include many others. Connotes porn that is about gay men but written by/for straight women. See also: Slash

Yuri: Japanese term for female-female romantic relationships.  Typically used in the anime genre but it’s branched out to include many others. Connotes porn that is about lesbian women but written by/for straight men. See also: Slash


34 Comments on “Dictionary of the Damned”

  1. Astrognash says:

    It’s fourth wall, I’m pretty sure. Forth is, as far as I know, a direction in which one travels.

  2. TacoMagic says:

    I added Emo Sue/Stu. I noticed that many a Mary Sue/Gary Stu eventually degrade into a self-pitying emo phase at some point and I wanted a simple term to express this shift.

    Thus far, in just about all the stories we’re currently riffing I’ve seen this emo shift, so I’m thinking it’s a handy term to have.

  3. TacoMagic says:

    Added “Awesome McEvil” as a descriptor for the villain equivilant of the Gary Stu/Mary Sue.

    For further reference, GLADOS in IT’S MY LIFE is an Awesome McEvil as is Stephan in Blood of Ancients. Generally they’re an amped up villain put in the fic so that Mary Sue/Gary Stu has somebody that is ULTIMATE OMG! to fight and defeat. Awesome McEvils are either the author’s own creation, or an amped up version of an existing Villain.

  4. Has anyone else run into this?

    Shark Jump – the point in the narrative when the original plot fizzles out and the author starts adding disjointed scenes in an effort to pad the story.

  5. Sootopolis says:

    Great dictionary :) This is the first time I’ve seen ship = worship; I always thought the ‘ship’ in shipping came from ‘relationship.’

    Also, I was wondering if OTP (One True Pairing) is worth an entry?

  6. SuperFeatherYoshi says:

    So… Can someone add Daybook to this list? Pretty please?

  7. agigabyte says:

    Could someone add “Mareisafication: A strange phenomenon, Marrisafication is when the misspellings of a word change every few uses. Some of our top scientists are studying Marissafication right now, but are completely stumped.”

  8. SuperFeatherYoshi says:

    I’m pretty sure Shipping came from Relationship, not Worship. Wikipedia and various other sources seem to support this as well.

  9. agigabyte says:

    Is there anything for when a character’s name is spelled in different ways all the time?

  10. AdmiralSakai says:

    We should really add a Shatner Speak entry- for prose that, includes large numbers, of commas… or, other delaying… punctuation at seemingly random, positions.

  11. Maybe add “The feeling of his penis” for when people utterly fail at writing lemons?

  12. AdmiralSakai says:

    Hmm, since a fair number of other people are riffing them now (and still more are referencing them) do you think we should add a ‘creepypasta’ definition?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.