An Introductory Guide to Fanfiction: Reading

Because Fanfiction is Awesome

Hey guys, Mbulsht here.

Firstly, I want to say that this is the first part of a two-part series of posts I am writing dealing with fanfiction. The idea here is to lay down some easy to understand guidelines for reading and writing. This isn’t any kind of handbook for fanfiction (I do not pretend to be any sort of expert in the subject), but you can think of it as a kind of checklist to follow. If you are interested in something more in depth, you should definitely check out Cereal Velocity’s own guide to writing fanfiction entitled “It’s Magic.” That will tell you everything you need to know about plot, dialogue, and everything in between. This little article I’m writing is just meant to be a few introductory words when it comes to new fanfiction readers/writers.Today’s post will be about reading; how to pick fics you might like, how to give proper constructive criticism, how to deal with bad fanfiction, and things like that.

Are you ready? Good.

In my last post, I talked briefly about fanfiction and how important a part of the fandom it is. Fanfiction, much like fanart, is a way for fans to show their appreciation for a show by flexing their creative muscles and creating works of their own. Fanfiction is also great for others in the fandom because often times it can serve to tide over rabid fans who are eagerly waiting for the next episode.

But from many of the post comments on Ponychan and Equestria Daily concerning fan works, I have come to realise that there are many people who do not read fanfiction. Not that they are averse to the idea (some of them may be, though many are not), but many of them are afraid to tread in unknown waters. Fanfiction does sometimes carry an unfortunate stigma with it, what with many infamous fics like “Cupcakes” floating around the internet.

So how does one get in to fanfiction? It’s simple. The first, all important step, is to

Take that leap of faith.

Dive into a good story!

There is some really good fanfiction out there, trust me. I spend most of my weekends browsing through the Equestria Daily fanfiction section selecting as many fics as I can that I find interesting, and delving into some absolutely stunning fan-created stories. MLP fanfictions have been able to make me laugh long and loud, and also sometimes shed manly tears. It is surprising how many good authors there are out there.

But of course, it is only natural that there will be fanfics out there that you will dislike. Perhaps it’s the style, or the subject matter, but inevitably you will stumble on something that you absolutely do not like at all.

So it’s important that you always remember to

Look before you leap.

Equestria Daily and both have this great genre/tag system built in. Equestria Daily uses tags like [grimdark] (that’s the really violent/scary stuff) and [shipping] (romance stuff) to denote what kind of story each fanfic is. has genre tags that it uses like “Romance,” “Mystery,” and the like. So always check what kind of story you will be reading before you open it up. If you happen to hate shipping, then don’t read shipping fics. If you know you don’t have the stomach to handle heavy violence, then don’t click anything labelled [grimdark]. These websites make it really easy to spot the things you might not want to read.

A good thing to remember is that although it is important for you to like what you read, it falls upon you to take responsibility by reading what you like. Those comments people post in shipping fics saying they “don’t like shipping,” or those comments others post in grimdark stories saying they “hate grimdark” are unnecessary. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. It’s that simple.

And once you have read, you should always share your opinion of the story. So never forget to

Give PROPER feedback

One of the biggest draws (my opinion here) of writing fanfiction is receiving responses. It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing that there are people out there you may never meet that are reading your work. So always comment back!

However, there are certain kinds of comments that really don’t need to be posted. The first are the ones I mentioned earlier. Telling an author that you didn’t read their story because you didn’t like their subject matter is unnecessary. Simply don’t read or comment. Other comments filled with flame and hatred are also unnecessary. If you read it and really didn’t like the way it was written, then comment back with the things you thought their fanfiction needed, or certain things that needed to be fixed. And always word your comments respectively. When you start name calling or start flaming a story, the author will simply ignore you.

We call this “Constructive Criticism.” Constructive Criticism is the best kind of comment you can give (aside from the “man this story is awesome!” kind of comment, of course) because it tells the author what kind of things the fanbase like or dislike, and can help them to improve their writing style. Ultimately, this is what everybody wants. An author wants to write the best story he or she can, and a reader wants to be entertained. So ease up on the hate, and always remember to be respectful. Because at the end of the day, the fanfiction author is taking their own leap of faith, and putting out their work on the internet. The last thing they want is to be hated on.

Well I think that about covers all the basics for reading. There’s just one last point here, and I think it’s the most important:

Share fanfics with everyone!

Share great stories with your friends!

Like a fanfic? Think its the most awesome thing you’ve seen since the start of the fandom? Don’t hesitate to show it to every brony you know! Often times really good fanfics slip under the radar because they’re posted in some obscure website or the author isn’t really well known. It’s on us, as readers, to help them get their work out there. And if you think something is really good, don’t hesitate to share it with Sethisto over at Equestria Daily. If him and his pre-readers think it’s good, then you can bet that fanfic will get hits like nobody’s business.

So let’s get to reading! There are some real works of art out there waiting to be discovered. In a fandom like this one, you can bet there will be something you like.

Well this is me, signing off for today. I’ll see you around, my fellow bronies.

-Ben Sims

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions? Email me at
Am I a fanfic writer? Why, yes! I am! I’m currently working on a [grimdark] called Patchwork (haha, pimpin’ my own stuff… I’m so pathetic…)


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4 Responses to An Introductory Guide to Fanfiction: Reading

  1. anonpony

    Very nice!
    I’ll keep this in mind next time I read a fanfic 🙂
    I also contribute quite alot to the MLP fanart and there really isn’t any better feeling than getting positive responce to my work!

  2. Excellent guide.

    As a fanfic author, I can say that authors often live on feedback. The most wonderful thing a reader can do is spend fifteen minutes out of their day to give us a detailed comment pointing out specific elements of the story or chapter they just read, that they liked, questioned, were surprised or confused about, etc. We will love you for it. And you will inspire us to write more (as well as help us write better).

    Thank you.

    On another note: “Look before you leap” is very good advice, but I advise readers not to take that too far. Don’t assume that because a story has a particular tag it can’t be good, or can’t be enjoyable. Just think of the tags that “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” would have, and yet everyone who is reading this is doing so because the cartoon transcends those tags.

    (Of course, I’m a little biased there. I am, after all, writing a fanfic with the unholy trifecta of tags that would normally send any reader running: Grimdark, Crossover and OC Ponies. If bronies and ponies weren’t willing to take a leap of faith on my work, I’d probably have no readers at all.)

    Finally, thank you for the link to “It’s Magic”. I hadn’t seen that before, and it is excellent. I highly recommend it for anyone considering fanfic writing.


    • Winter Summit

      sorry, i just had to mention, i just finished reading Fallout: Equestria, and I have to commend you on writing a novel that manages to be moving, entertaining and emotional, I don’t usually get shocked by books once Ive finished reading them (when I realise that is’s finished) and when I do i hold that book in very high regard
      amazing job, keep on writing, please!
      Winter Summit

  3. Henry

    How do you add and edit tags when you have a story already posted?

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