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Awful oversight: This was originally intended to be a temple on the Avenue of Small Gods. Terribly sorry about the oversight. So, this entry can be treated as if it were a sort of educational shrine, an impression which is possibly reinforced by the researchers' comments at the bottom.What is slash?
There are many different ways to define slash,despite the fact that the word has only one meaning in the context of fanfiction. A good place to start might be with some completely irrelevant quotes that effectively describe various attitudes.*
Some call it "impiety and lack of propriety and quite a variety of unpleasant names." - Tom Lehrer (From his song 'Poisoning Pigeons in the Park')
Others describe slash as "the source of all non-chocolatey goodness in the universe." - These people
However, neither of those definitions go anywhere near explaining what slash actually is, so one or two real definitions would be a good idea, neh?
A short definition would be "fanfiction in which two males are in a relationship or together." - Here
On the other hand, if you want a long definition, here is one, along with a bit of history: "Slash is a genre of fanfic which deals almost exclusively with same sex homoerotic relationships. Research has suggested it is written and read primarily by heterosexual females.... slash began in the 70s with Kirk/Spock fiction. The term 'slash' came from the slash mark between the names of the characters. In this way, the particular pairing of characters is articulated. It has spread to all kinds of TV and movie characters." - Here
But that still doesn't explain what slash is. Just the definition of the word is not enough. There are subgenres of slash, common and uncommon fandoms, common and rare pairings, cliches, good slash, bad slash, angst, fluff, AU, and all sorts of other variations. No doubt some of you are wondering what some of those terms mean. They will all be explained in due course. Now would be a good time.
Where to begin? Fandoms would be a good place to start. The fandom that a fanfic is part of is the book, movies, TV show, etc that the fanfiction is written about or set in. For example, Star Trek and the Sherlock Holmes books are both fandoms. Some fandoms have sub-fandoms, as it were. Lord of the Rings could be said to have two sub-fandoms: the books and the movies. Star Trek, naturally, has many sub-fandoms; each of the series count as separate fandoms, and so do the book series.
A vital part of most slashfics is the pairing or pairings. Usually, the most defining aspect of a story is the main pairing. Various fandoms have more or less common pairings. The most common pairing in a given fandom is normally two characters who are either very good friends or who are very bad enemies. For example, Kirk/Spock is a very common pairing. It was also the 'original' slash pairing. As anyone who has watched TOS, and some people who haven't, know, Kirk and Spock are very close friends. A Kirk/Spock story would depict them as lovers. As anyone who has read the Harry Potter books would know, Harry and Draco are deadly enemies, yet, for some inexplicable reason, Harry/Draco is an extremely common pairing. So is Harry/Snape, for that matter. *shrug* Who knows how the human mind works? Not me.
Now for a few of the different genres of fanfiction. Genre, in this case, does not mean fantasy, horror, sci-fi, etcetera, but what the general mood of the whole thing is, if you will. For example, the genre angst would indicate that the piece is generally angsty.* Fluff is generally sweet and romantic. Some genres are indicated by abbreviations. For example, h/c stands for hurt/comfort. Essentially, hurt/comfort is exactly what it sounds like: one character is injured, physically or mentally, and the other character serves to help them cling to sanity, prevents them from committing suicide, or simply sits by their sickbed day and night. Another abbreviation-genre is PWP, or Plot? What Plot?. PWPs are usually very smutty.*
PWP would actually fall under types of fanfiction stories. While types may seem very similar to genres, there is a difference, albeit a very small one. Not all fanfics fall into one of these types. In fact, most do not. The only other prevalent type is the drabble and variants of same. A drabble is a fanfic of exactly 100 words. There are also dribbles (50 words long), double-drabbles (200 words long), and triple-drabbles (300 words long), or, in the Star Trek fandom, tribbles.*
Ratings should be fairly obvious, but are worthy of explanation nonetheless. The fanfic rating system is based on the system used for movies (in the US, at least). There are five different ratings, and the boundaries between them are subject to personal opinion. A basic explanation will be attempted here.
G: Any fanfiction rated G should be suitable for all audinces, including five-year-olds if they want to read it.
PG: PG fanfics may include kissing and so on, as well as a few swear words, up to a point. Still suitable for most audiences.
PG-13: PG-13 fanfics should be suitable to anyone who's taken that class in school where they teach you about 'the changes your body goes through during puberty'. Can include 'fade to black,' where the author implies happenings of a sexual nature, and can include such phrases as 'they made love,' but can contain nothing explicit. What qualifies as 'explicit' is up to the author or reader.
R: R-rated fanfics vary. Some lean towards PG-13, while others lean towards NC-17. Entirely up to the author's and reader's judgement. Some fics are rated R for violence rather than sexual content.
NC-17: NC-17 is the highest rating and should not be read by anyone under 18, although they do it anyway. Usually (if not always) very explicit about everything. Capable of producing disturbing images that take weeks to go away.
Now that you are familiar with some common slash terms, you may be wondering 'Where can I go to find slash to read, or, if I want to write it, where can I publish my works?' It is also entirely possible you are not wondering this, but in case you are, this entry provides the answer.
Archives are the main places to find large amounts of slash to consume. :-P Many archives only focus on one fandom or pairing. The others normally have separate sections for different fandoms or pairings. A good archive should include ratings with the story titles, so it is possible to decide which stories to avoid. A list of several archives is here provided:The All Ages Kirk/Spock Archive An archive of Kirk/Spock stories, poems, and art, rated from G to PG-13
All Ages Spock/McCoy Archive Same principle as the previous link, but different pairing.
Sacrilege! This archive contains Sherlock Holmes/John Watson stories of every rating previously mentioned, but conveniently indicates the rating next to the link to each story. Go look at it if that explanation was incomprehensible.
Trekiverse Only about one third of the stories on here are from G to PG-13, but this archive, which has an incredible amount of Trek fics, also indicates rating.
The Personal Opinions of the Researchers
This section will be used for the researchers who have contributed to this entry to express their personal opinions and possibly bias everyone who reads this entry. At least, that's Esty's aim.
This is Esty speaking, if you didn't know. Alright. I placed this sectioon here so I could ramble on about my two favorite slash pairings of all time and the innate rightness of said pairings. I refer to Kirk/Spock and Holmes/Watson. In my opinion, these guys just belong together. I mean, Kirk and Spock are such good friends that Kirk risked literally everything to retrieve Spock's body. Holmes and Watson are so close that Watson is the only one (to my knowledge) who has ever caused Holmes to show love for another human being (that is to say, he showed love for Watson). (Watson said 'love', else I would have said 'affection' or something similar.) Now, many people think that to portray either of these pairs as lovers would be utterly wrong. Me, I feel they belong together, closer than friendship can take them.
I also decided to st- to borrow a line from a song and use it for my own purposes; namely, as a motto for that part of me that is a slasher. Here it is:
"When correctly viewed, everything is lewd!"-Tom Lehrer, 'Smut' *
The only reason I am getting a part of this Entry to myself is because I insisted upon it, and because I appear in two of Esty's slash stories so far. I am male, and I am bisexual. I actually do enjoy being slashed, because it can lead to long-term relationships, as well as, on occasion, interesting jobs. In one particular story, set in the world of a computer game called 'Thief: Deadly Shadows', I have quite an interesting profession. Unfortunately, I can't say what it is outright, so I shall merely have to borrow someone else's euphemism. For those of you who have read the Discworld books, if I lived in Ankh-Morpork and was female, I would belong to the Seamstresses Guild. For those of you who haven't, go ask someone who has. Feel free to get mad at me for wasting your time.