For all those who want to read my posts because they’re interested in the stuff I write about but don’t get some of the weird terminology I use, I just wanted to make a little glossary. I promise I’m not assuming you’re stupid! This is just for those who are unfamiliar with things. And I’m not nearly as into fandom as many people are, so my definitions are not exhaustive. I may add more to this as I think of things.
AU–short for alternate universe. Describes a fanfiction which departs significantly from canon (i.e. by adding another character, changing backstory, changing how events turn out in canon).
canon–the official, published body of work, storyline, or events of any book, TV show, movie, or video game. Any events or facts stated directly in the work or by the creators of the work. These cannot be changed unless the creators change them. Anything outside canon that fans create is called fanon.
fandom–a group of people united in their interest in a certain area or hobby, often a TV show, book, or video game. Such interest can range on a spectrum from merely casual viewer or enjoyer to more devoted (involving writing fanfiction, cosplaying, going to conventions, creating fanart, having a Tumblr page or other site dedicated to the area/hobby) to problematically obsessed (doing any of these things too much).
fanfiction–I think most people know this, but I’ll mention it. It’s extremely straightforward: people taking the characters, setting, story etc. from whatever medium they like and writing their own story using them. Sometimes it follows canon (see above), sometimes it deviates wildly from it. The subjects range from enjoyable to highly disturbing.
feels–overwhelming emotions (usually happiness, sadness, or a combination of both) lasting for an indeterminate period of time, sparked by the personality/actions of a character(s) and/or the events that occur in a story. Especially poignant when bittersweet and complicated. What’s a good example of feels? Err…um…Kenshin leaving Kaoru to go fight Shishio! Especially because you know he doesn’t really want to leave because he loves his friends but leaves because he loves his friends. AND because his leaving and never coming back is Kaoru’s greatest fear. What else? Let’s see…Sherlock on the phone with John while faking his suicide (major feels. major). Frodo and Sam on Mount Doom. I think you’ve got the picture, although not all feels are angsty. It’s just the ones I can think of are angst. Often appears as feels, the feels, too many feels, and any variation of these in hashtag form, especially on GIFs.
GIFS–First I defer to this urbandictionary.com definition to explain:
1. Graphics Interchange Format. GIFs are image files that are compressed to reduce transfer time. It can also use multiple images for animated effects (animated GIFs), but has no sound.
In terms of fandom, then, a GIF is an animated image depicting a moment in a story, a character expression, or a character action. Though optional, it often has a caption, either the actual dialogue depicted in the GIF or dialogue that appropriately describes what is present in the GIF. Therefore, a GIF of Sam hauling Frodo onto his back might have a big, all-caps, hashtagged “feels” scrawled all over it. As the UD definition says, Tumblr is the place for these.
shipping–supporting the existence of a romantic relationship between two characters. People who ship are called shippers and they say that they ship a certain pairing of characters. Often the term shipper is modified by the pairing name (i.e., those who ship Sherlock and Molly may be called Sherlolly shippers). So if you see a strange conglomeration of names, it’s probably just a pairing name.