A lot of the time when people ask me what I write, I usually tell them that I write fanfiction. Usually the response I get is this or some variation of the same thing:
“What is fanfiction?”
Based on having this as a frequently-asked-question being presented to me, I have a very good feeling that a lot of people have no idea what fanfiction is, so I will do my best to explain.
Fanfiction is, basically, when you take the characters from a TV show, manga, anime, comics, literature, etc, and you write them into your own story. Fanfiction, also known as fanfics, are usually then posted up on the internet through websites like Archive of Our Own and fanfiction.net for others to see. Fanfiction is rarely published as actual books, due to all the copyright issues with the original creators of the literature/TV show/manga/etc you were taking characters from to write your own fanfiction with.
I usually put up my fanfics on fanfiction.net. Here is a link to my fanfiction profile if you want to read some of my fanfiction: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/4126346/Mystical-Authoress
Popular fanfiction archives include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, Super Smash Bros., Dragon Age, Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh, and many, many more. Some fanfiction archives can be filled with possibly thousands of fanfics, while other archives could have, say, less than a hundred.
Fanfiction might also have certain ratings, like movies, depending on which websites you go on to read your fanfiction. For example, on fanfiction.net the lowest rating a fanfic can get is the K rating, which means it’s safe for everyone to read, and should technically be free of violence, swearing, dark themes, etc. My fanfiction tends to be more around a T rating, which could include swearing, dark themes, violence, etc.
Having even more graphic descriptions or more mature themes (which includes sex) than your normal T-rated fanfic could bump up the fanfiction rating on fanfiction.net to a M rating, or even an MA rating. MA rated fanfiction is not allowed on fanfiction.net as far as I know— the site only allows fanfiction up to an M rating. I’m pretty sure, though, that there are other fanfiction websites that do allow MA-rated fanfics.
As most of you reading this post may be a first-time fanfiction reader, I would recommend you try to search for a fanfiction archive that you like (ex. Harry Potter, etc.) on a fanfiction website and just stick to the T-rated, K-rated or K+-rated fanfiction. You can customize your search to find fanfiction that features specific characters, or even specific pairings.
I hope this post helped you gain some basic understanding of fanfiction, and that you have a happy time diving into the world of fanfiction!