Founded in 1998, Fanfiction.Net is the largest and most frequented fanfiction website in the world, easily outstripping any other fanfiction archive in sheer volume of fanfics published. For the casual fanfiction consumer, this site may be the only fanfiction stop they need to make.

So naturally, in accordance to Sturgeon’s law, Fanfiction.Net is also the most daunting to navigate, given that 90% of what’s posted is unadulterated crap.

By unadulterated crap, I’m not even talking about appropriate diction, nuanced character development, compelling world-building, or other basic elements of storytelling. I’m talking about fics that are little more than hastily stitched together compositions that would put your high school English teacher into anaphylactic shock.

(This is Part II of “So You Want to Read a Fanfic: A Beginner’s Guide to Finding High Quality Fanfiction”, a four-part post series geared toward anyone interested in reading decent fanfiction. Given the primary audience of this blog, anime fanfiction examples are primarily used.)

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To give you an idea of what’s out there. The first page of offerings the Naruto fandom has to offer as of 6/19/16. Believe or not, compared to 10 years ago, this is actually not too terrible.

This is hardly surprising, considering that the average FF.net user age skews around 14-15 years old and that many FF.net users are teenagers. While there are some fantastic, brilliant teenage writers out there, this precocious literary elite group are a minority and most of the stuff you’ll find will be barely readable (if you’re lucky).

Let’s be real. You want to read good fanfiction, but you have neither the desire nor the time to waste hours scrolling through hundreds of pages of fanfiction. In the olden times, back when FF.net was a more manageable size, all writers had at their disposal was the basic FF.net search bar and basic search filters, which made searching for good fics positively hellish for all but the most intrepid of readers. Thankfully, FF.net’s recent introduction of extensive search filters customized by fandom, searching for good fanfiction got a lot easier.

Mastering the search filters is the quickest way to finding good fanfiction–particularly for readers who may be new to fanfiction or to a particular fandom. I’ll go over some best practices for making the most of FF.net’s filters so you can stop reading this guide and start diving into some good fanfiction in just a few clicks.

First things first, make a FF.net account. There is nothing more irritating than trying to find that one awesome fic you’ve forgotten the title of and having to scroll through page after page after page. With an FF.net account, you can quickly favorite and bookmark your favorite fics and authors (a good practice to get into because those fics will pile up).

Introduction to FF.net’s Filters

Now let’s check out what the filters look like themselves. If we take a looksee at the Anime/Manga section of FF.net, we see that it’s quite the extensive collection, as there are many titles both familiar and unfamiliar listed, organized by fandom size.

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A good mix of popular and obscure anime/manga fandoms.

I’ve picked Naruto because it is the largest and most popular fandom in FF.net and it’s in big fandoms that the search filters become the most useful. Who has time to wade through 400K+ fics? We barely have time to make it through all of the aired episodes as it is!

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So a few things to note here. Most important of all. Check out the number count at the bottom. That tells you how many fics the filters have captured. 288K…hey, where did the 115K+ fics go? The answer lies in one of the filter settings that’s already been preset for you–the Rating Filter, which has been preset for fics Rated K -> T.

What does this mean? It means that within the Naruto fandom, nearly 30% of fics have a M, or Mature Rating, which means anything that contains adult language, themes or suggestions. Now, FF.net has clearly stated that it doesn’t allow the publishing of adult content of “detailed descriptions of physical interaction of sexual or violent nature” but you’d be surprised to see how weakly this restriction is enforced or followed. FF.net isn’t for the faint-hearted or most prude of fans–when you venture into fanfic territory, you have to accept the dangers lurking out there.

That being said, for any concerned parents who may be worried for the psychological welfare of their children’s development, don’t go placing FF.net on the banlist just yet. FF.net, knowing full well that most of the visitors are going to be minors, has set the rating filter to max out at Teen (T) rating as a precaution, which means as long as you don’t mess around with the rating filter, your kid’s unlikely to read anything explicit or pornographic.

So naturally, the first tip I have to offer is to adjust the rating filter to “Rating: All”

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There is a bit of ageism behind this bit of advice, but a decade’s worth of fanfiction reading experience, I’ve observed that older writers are more inclined to write mature fics, and older writers tend to be better writers than their younger counterparts. This is a heuristic, rather than a hard-and-fast rule. Many of the best fanfics I have read are in the K-> T range, but for open-minded readers willing to  filter through some truly awful porn,  mature-rated fics typically have a higher yield for more grammatically sound, sophisticated writing.

Character and Pairing Filters

What filters should you look at next? It depends on what kind of fic you’re looking for. If you have a specific character you’re interested in reading about, go ahead and toggle through the character filters to pick out your favorite character. Long names may be shortened and/or abbreviated and fandoms can be arbitrary about which name gets truncated–first or last, so make sure you know your character’s full name in case you can’t find your character on the list at first glance.

This is also a good way of assessing a character’s popularity. For example, I’ve chosen Naruto, who’s yielded 129K fics. Which is quite a lot. Not quite as popular as Sasuke, who edges out with 133K. As expected, they’re very popular characters among Naruto fans.

You can add multiple characters you want, up to a maximum of 4 main characters.

CAUTION: The more characters you add, the more fics you’ll exclude. Because character filters are a relatively recent addition to FF.net, some of the older fics published more than a few years ago might be excluded from your search because authors may not have gone back and updated their fics with their main characters.

If you’re looking for a particular ship (your One True Pairing, or OTP, if you will), you can also click the pairing button in the upper right hand corner after you’ve picked your characters. Again, we have the same caveat we did with the multiple characters. Because the pairing button is a new addition, you may want to avoid excluding fics that may have your desired ship. Typically, just selecting the characters you’re interested will yield romantic pairings as well (because, surprise, surprise, romance is the most popular fanfiction genre).

Another tip for the highly selective fan: If you have a passionate hatred for a certain character, aka, you have a severe allergic reaction to reading anything with Sakura, or Hinata, or Orochimaru or Rock Lee (nonsense–everybody likes Lee), you can also use the “Without Filters” to exclude characters you absolutely can’t stand. Now, this won’t guarantee that these characters won’t show up–but you will filter out most of the fics that feature them as a main character.

For the purposes of this search, I’ll go with Naruto and Sasuke as my selected characters and exclude Sakura. (Not that I hate Sakura, despite being an awesome medic-nin, she essentially contributes very little to the story’s endgame and seems to serve only to reinforce Kishimoto’s patriarchal philosophy.), which cuts down our fandom size from 385K+ to 21.8K–a 95% reduction, which is an enormous improvement.

That being said, 21.8K fanfics is still way too many, so what other filters can we use?

Genre, Language, Story Length and Status Filters

Use the genre filter with discretion. Again, the genre filters matters more for folks with pickier fanfiction tastes. If you’re strictly interested in Romance, Supernatural, Adventure/Action fanfic takes, go ahead and pick your poison. The caveat is that many authors may not adhere to the genre selection and may opt to choose “General”  (or no genre at all) just for the sake of simplicity. Since the genre assignment is up to the author’s discretion, we can just label it anything we like, regardless of whether the chosen genre accurately describes the work. (Besides, the whole idea of discrete genre categories is another hot debate up for grabs–but at a later time perhaps.)

Fun fact: Unsurprisingly, by a landslide in most fandoms, Romance is the most popular fanfic genre. The shipping is real here so be mindful of its treacherous waters.

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I swear, I’ve got this. I’m an expert, I know exactly what I’m talking about.

Set the language filter to your preferred language. Language- matters more for non-English fics, as most fics are in English. However, you can screen out languages you don’t want/can’t read, and is very helpful for fics with a huge international fanbase. If your language is English, unfortunately, this filter won’t be too helpful in eliminating many fics–as most fanfics on FF.net are in English. But hey, it may be helpful to go ahead and cut out that 1% of fanfic you won’t be able to understand anyway.

You can set the story length filter to a fic length you’re comfortable with reading. Just by the selectivity law of sheer effort, longer fics tend to be of higher quality. Do you want to read something short, or something long? It’s really a matter of preference. Longer fics “tend” to be better since they take more time and effort and presumably the author cares about their writing to some degree if they’re writing something more than 1K. Then again, you also risk excluding some very good short stories too. Depending on what you want, you can run a search for excellent short fics (<1K words) and excellent long fics (>40-60K words). As for everything else in between, you won’t have too much luck as FF.net currently doesn’t have the capability to specify a finite middle range from an inequality system.

There’s nothing more annoying to a reader that an incomplete, dead (inactive; no longer updated, abandoned) fic, so go ahead and set that story status filter to “Complete”. Unfortunately, completed fics are generally a minority population in fanfiction. With luck, there’s enough decent completed fics to keep you going in your fandom for a good while. Unfortunately, you’ll have to accept that some of the best fics out there, are going to have to remain the tragically dead and incomplete masterpieces.

And the most important filter of them all…The Sort Filter

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Amazingly enough…only one of these options is remotely useful

Your default sort filter option is by most recently updated. Which may be useful if you’re following a favorite or an ongoing fic that is NOT DEAD and is consistently updated. If you’re looking to get a feel of what’s hot and popular by a fandom at the present moment, this filter might be interesting to use.

For others with no time to waste, go straight to “Reviews.”

The Reviews filter organizes the fic repository so that the fics with the most reviews get bumped up to the top. Given how much effort it takes to write a review (much to the frustration of many fanfic authors who know exactly how many lurkers read without saying a word), the more reviews a fic has, the higher possibility that the fic is of decent quality.

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The “finest” fics the Naruto fandom has to offer.

A few observations can be gleaned from these top 5 most reviewed fics in the Naruto fandom. Note that one drawback of the Review Filter is that it’s biased towards insanely long fics, often greater than 200K words, more than twice the length of your typical novel. (For reference, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the longest entry in the series, runs just over 250K.)

However, more reviews doesn’t necessarily dictate quality. Order of the Phoenix was easily the most long-winded HP work and could have benefited from a more thorough trimming down. Writers who write on a serial basis have a proclivity towards extending their works–and even the best of writers (Charles Dickens anyone?) don’t always avoid this trap.

A more reliable quality measure than the number of reviews or the word count, is the word count/review count ratio. This ratio (which unfortunately isn’t available as a filter) is useful because it removes the review filter’s bias towards longer fics. What if you find an epic-length fic (>100K) with only five reviews? You might actually have stumbled across a really hidden gem, but more likely than not, you’ve encountered a real stinker.

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Some Naruto fics with very bad word count/review count ratio.

Ouch. A cursory glance at these fics and you’ll know exactly why their review count is so abysmally low. The first fic, “Working Through College” hits all the bland notes (and even the hidden ones) with a frustratingly vague summary and title that fails to describe what the fic is about. The second one (besides committing a spelling faux-pas in the summary–a huge no-no), is just as vague as the first, only more concise. “Konoha University” is the prototypical example of the “author-insert-as-OC” fic, while the last fic on the list manages to hit all of the flaws previously mentioned.

(Now first impressions aren’t always accurate, so I went and skimmed through each of these fics and have confirmed that while they are far from the worst, they are, indeed, quite bad.)

So what word count/review count ratio are we to use? For folks looking for a more numbers-driven approach, I offer the following table, with numbers that can be adjusted according to your bad-fic tolerance level (BFTT) and your word count/review count ratio (WCRC-R).

Reader Type Bad-Fic Tolerance Threshold (BFTT) Word Count/Review Count Ratio (WCRC-R)
Fanfic Junkie Moderate ≤ 1000 words/1 review
Fanfic Casual Reader Low ≤ 200 words/1 review
Fanfic Epicurean Severely allergic ≤ 50 words/1 review

The WCRC-R system gives us a quick way to assess a fic’s quality regardless of its word or chapter count.

A decent fic is good enough to compel a reader to leave a review after 1000 words. A good fic will do so in 200 words. A truly exemplary fic worthy will be able to steal the reader’s heart in a mere 50, the exact length of this very paragraph.

Now let’s put this into practice. Because that last Naruto search of worst epic-length Naruto fics was a bit traumatizing, let’s move into another personal fandom favorite of mine–Natsume Yuujincho, a much smaller fandom of about 350 fics.

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Filters used: (1) Sort By: Reviews; (2) Ratings: All
  • The Human Mask“, by harunekonya, yields a WCRC-R of 47.58, making it palatable for the Fanfic Epicurean. And well deserved, harunekonya is a skilled writer with great attention to character development and cultural detail, and “The Human Mask” is, in my opinion, the best fic in the Natsume Yuujincho fandom.
  • The Green Plastic Table“, by Spades 44, yields a WCRC-R of 203.18, just missing the Casual Reader’s threshold but well within range for the Fanfic Junkie.
  • Problem on Set!“, by QuEen0fs0ng, yields a WCRC-R of 286.20, which is within range for the Fanfic Junkie.
  • Child of Spirits“, another harunekonya fic, yields a WCRC-R of 120.09, which falls within the Fanfic Casual Reader’s tolerance range.

As we can see from our sample, review count numbers aren’t everything. Although both “The Green Plastic Table” and “Problem on Set!” scored more reviews than “Child of Spirits”, “Child of Spirits” scored a more favorable WCRC-R since it managed to elicit more reviews per word. We can see that WCRC-R  also helps mitigate the long-fic bias review count filters have. With that reasoning, let’s go back to our Naruto Top list by Review Count again:

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Here’s Naruto’s Top 5 Most Reviewed Fics

So what’s going on here? According to our system, all of these fics are absolutely amazing by a Fanfic Epicurean’s standards. Take a closer look at these fics and you’ll find that while they are not bad and certainly readable, they are also hardly the best fics the Naruto fandom has to offer. No two fandoms are alike and one discrepancy that is worth noting is the sheer difference in fandom size. Remember, the Natsume Yuujincho fandom (~350) is less than <1% of the Naruto fandom. Which also means that we might need to adjust our WCRC-R thresholds accordingly to normalize our standards. If we take Natsume Yuujincho to be approximately 1%  of our Naruto fandom (it’s actually less than 1% but we’ll give the Naruto fandom a bit more slack), let’s multiply WCRC-R numbers by that ratio and see what happens:

Reader Type Bad-Fic Tolerance Threshold (BFTT) Word Count/Review Count Ratio (WCRC-R)
Fanfic Junkie Moderate ≤ 10 words/1 review = 10
Fanfic Casual Reader Low ≤ 2 words/1 review = 2
Fanfic Epicurean Severely allergic ≤ 1 word/2 reviews = 0.5

According to our adjusted set of standards, all of these fics pretty much fail. Which goes to show that it’s easier to find good fics in smaller fandoms. But are these standards too high? Here are how a few of my favorites fare in this system:

Does this mean that my Naruto fandom taste is bad? Well, that’s definitely up for debate, but I can confidently say that none of these fics listed are bad. They’re good enough that I would actually recommend them to most Naruto fans. But the fact that our system isn’t perfect in establishing an absolute WCRC threshold reveals the limitations of the WCRC-R system. As a relative measure, looking at the WCRC-R numbers is still useful in comparing fics within a fandom, but loses its usefulness when you try to apply the same thresholds across fandoms, especially those that are so disproportionately sized.

As a best practice, it’s ideal to use both the review count filter to find good quality long-fics and the WCRC Ratio to capture good quality short-fics. One drawback of the WCRC-R is that it does not favor epic-length fics, which may be prone to what I call reviewer exhaustion, the phenomenon where longer fics get fewer reviews because of the time/effort barrier that needs to be overcome when you’re keeping up or finishing a longer fic. Longer fics will have to amass even more reviews overall in order to compete with popular shorter fics. According to this system, shorter fics with huge review counts will come out on top. Epic length fics (that is, fics >100K, generally hit a WCRC-R ceiling. Taking this into account, we can apply an exception rule for our WCRC Ratio for long fics:

Longfic WCRC exception: Any longfic (WC>100K), in a reasonably large fandom (>10K fics)  with at least 200 reviews, has a pretty good chance of being a good fanfic.

Again, this rule will vary from fandom to fandom. Larger fandoms, simply because of the larger fanbase will have a larger and more active reader base to review fics. Smaller fandoms will have to fight to hit that 200, but the chances of a reader coming across their fic are higher because of the smaller fandom size.

What about the other Sort Filters?

Another filter you may want to consider is the Favorites sort filter. It’s arguably more reliable in as a quality and popularity measure in the case that you can favorite a work only once (as opposed to having a fic with 50 reviews but they’re all from the same person). There is usually an overlap with favorites and reviews, though. Most Reviewed Fics also tend to garner a lot of Favorites. It’s also not a complete measure because only registered FF.net users can Favorite a work, while any reader can leave a review as long as the writer hasn’t disabled the anonymous reader permissions on their account. A more accurate popularity measure would be a hit count, which FF.net has for writers curious about how many hits their work is getting (and creepily enough, you can sort hits by country). Unfortunately it’s not something available to the general FF.net reader (this is a feature that Archive Of Our Own, or AO3, another fanfiction site, does, indeed, have).

Reader Tip: If you find a fanfic you like, Favorite it! There’s nothing more annoying that trying to go back and find that one fic you liked but you just couldn’t remember the title of. When I started reading fanfiction over a decade ago, FF.net didn’t even have Favorites, so you can imagine the nightmare of trying to bookmark all the fics I was following and would like to re-read again. The next highest compliment a writer can receive–besides a wonderfully constructive feedback filled review–is the knowledge that you like their work so much you’d want to read it again.

Sorting by Follow Count follows the same principle as Favorites Sort in the respect that you can only “Follow” a fic once. It’s a feature more useful for a reader who wants to keep up with an ongoing fic that has yet to be completed, and is less useful as a search filter option. Again, there is some overlap with Favorites and Follows, but Follows are biased towards incomplete, multi-chaptered fics.

The Golden Rule of Summary

Once you have your filters set (it’s a lot to take in, especially for the first time, but once you’ve established your filter preferences, filtering becomes automatic), now it’s time for the hard work–reading the summaries. This is where the real work comes in, the separating  of the wheat from the chaff. And despite our best culling efforts, there is still a lot of chaff. And possibly some oddly shaped plot bunnies. But we’ve been vehemently instructed to be “BE GENTLE WITH THEM-IT’S THEIR FIRST FIC.”

There is an exacting art to writing a good summary. First impressions do matter. While a good summary doesn’t guarantee a good fic, a bad summary will scare away readers even if your fic is Nobel Prize Laureate winning material.

Just as how one size fits all is a lie concocted by the clothing industry, there is no one definitive “best way” to writing a good summary. A good summary should be brief (FF.net helps by providing a maximum character count), capture enough of the fic’s spirit to entice the reader to read more. Personally, the best summaries I find are often the simplest–usually one or two sentences–that introduce what or who the fic is about and then subverts fan expectations by offering a novel perspective or twist. Take this character study fic, “Twenty Matters of Pride to Hyuuga Neji” by Kraken’s Ghost.

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WCRC-R: 10.46, which is pretty darn good! Additionally 300+ reviews for a relatively short one-shot is a good indicator of its quality.

Pithy, unadorned summary that already suggests a nuanced look at Hyuuga Neji, who’s portrayed as a reserved but prideful shinobi in Naruto, with a strong WCRC-R, a high Favorite count and interestingly enough, a high Follower count (despite this being a one-shot), this fic shows all the right signs of a positive fanfic reading experience. Let’s take a look at Lisse‘s fic on the Yondaime Hokage from Naruto, which employs a similar strategy.

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WCRC-R: 13.19. And whoa if that summary didn’t grab you, you’re a pickier reader than me.

Same idea. A two liner, two parter punch. The first line establishes the premise. The second line overturns it completely. In this case, the summary is actually a direct line from the fic itself. A tip for fanfic writers out there: save those masterful one-liners–they can make great summaries.

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WCRC-R: 23.56.

Dialogue excerpted from your fic can make great summaries too, as shown by Hakurei Ryuu‘s one-shot exploring the Heart of the Cards.

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WCRC-R: 508.33

Sometimes a broad thematic sweeping sentence can work as a summary too, if used sparingly. YamiPaladinofChaos‘s Code Geass fic “Revenant“, shows us that well-trodden phrases are well-worn classics for a reason and it works here because revenge is such an integral part of Code Geass canon.

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WCRC-R: 97.5.

Sometimes the unusual pairing or inclusion of two characters can be enough to perk up an already foreboding summary. As Zeionia aka Disturbed shows in her D.Gray-man fic “Pater et Filius“, spoilers are good at whetting a reader’s appetite.

So don’t discount the summary. There are a hundred ways to write a good summary, but a thousand more ways of writing a very bad one. Avoid summaries that reek of new self-consciousness (i.e. “This is a bad summary, this is my first fanfic, Plz read dis, this is very emotional and will make you cry, read me PLEASE”), have appalling grammar or mechanical errors–there’s nothing that will smash your credibility as a fanfic writer quicker than misspelling a character’s name in the summary itself–or summaries that ramble on without actually telling you anything.

Once you find a fic with a reasonable WCRC-R, a decent summary, clever title (optional, but it helps), then happy reading! Chances are you have found a fic that you like. And if you like it, leave a review to show your appreciation. And if you want to read it again, make sure to Favorite and/or Follow it.

Beyond the Filters: Leveraging Favorites, Author Lists and FF.net Reading Communities

As any business-savvy person will tell you, personal recommendations are the number one driver of consumer purchase decisions. Want to find a good place to eat? You ask a friend. Don’t have any friends? There’s always the informed opinions of complete strangers on Yelp.

Similarly, the highest yield method of finding good fanfiction is, incidentally, not the filters. Filters help, certainly, but the larger the fandom size, the more work you have cut out for you.

The best way to find good fanfiction is by leveraging your Favorites to identify your Favorite Authors and then using their Favorites to find more fics. Birds of a feather flock together and so do good fanfiction writers.

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WCRC-R: 38.64

Let’s take “standard deviation“–great title, by the way–a Kuroko no Basuke fic by aniblogging senpai Frog-kun,who also happens to be a prolific fanfiction writer. I stumbled across this little gem way before I knew Frog-kun as an aniblogger. Say I want to read more so I take a look at Frog-kun’s author profile.

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A couple observations. WOW, that is a lot of fandoms. Unlike many fanfiction writers who stick primarily to one or a few fandoms, Frog-kun leapfrogs (sorry, couldn’t resist) fandoms like a virile amphibian. You can see that his tastes are varied and diverse–we’ve got a good mix of anime demographics here–shonen, shojo, light novels, video games, of varying fandom sizes–which also suggests that while Frog-kun is passionate about a lot of anime, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Which is great is you’ve fallen in love with an author’s style and don’t care too much about sticking to one fandom. In fact, sometimes, you’ll fall into a new fandom by virtue of reading a really good fanfic.

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Sort Filters, even here, remain your ever constant companion. The default sort is set to Most Recently Updated, which may not be entirely useful unless you’re following an ongoing fic. For especially prolific writers with story counts of 100+, sorting by Category may be more useful, especially if you’re aiming to look for fics within a certain category. I want to read more KnB fics by Frog-kun, so I’ll sort the list by Category and search for KnB.

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BOOM. Suddenly I have three more good KnB fics for me to chomp on. You can see how trawling through your Favorite Author profiles yields higher incidences of good fanfiction. Which is why it’s critical to identify and save your favorite stories so you can use them to look for more good ones later.

Say that I’m a diehard KnB fan and am deadset on reading nothing but more KnB. As a fandom leaper, Frog-kun doesn’t exclusively dabble in KnB, which means we’re going to have to venture in other waters. So where to next? A next good step is to head over to Frog-kun’s Favorite Works list. Again, fandom leapers like Frog-kun aren’t as likely to have many fics dedicated to one fandom but there’s a good chance that he might have saved a few good ones. Luckily, we found one:

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WCRC-R: 62.17

Guess what the next step? Click on GryfoTheGreat‘s profile, look up his KnB fics, trawl through his Favorite Works–rinse and repeat until you’re sick of basketball or another fandom’s caught your eye.

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Even moar Kuroko no Basuke

As you can tell, fanfic surfing gets labyrinthine real fast. Besides Favorite Works, if you have some time, you can also take a look at a writer’s Favorite Writers list. Not all FF.net writers dedicate themselves to creating an expansive Favorite Writers list, but Favorited Writers typically also have a high yield of good fanfiction, often in similar fandoms your Favorite Writer is interested in.

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Good writers become friends with other good writers. We can see from Frog-kun’s list that in addition to being a prolific writer, he’s also a prolific reader and can identify many fellow fanfic writers whose works he enjoys.

It’s a bit more work, but you can also find good fics in Communities, an oft ignored FF.net feature. Communities are fic collections created and curated by FF.net users, usually housing fics of a particular theme, pairing, or other categorizing factor. As such, they’re not very useful to most readers until the readers have an established familiarity of what’s popular in a fandom. Prolific FF.net veterans usually manage, moderate or contribute to one or more communities. This is a better way to find quality fics of your favorite pairings, as opposed to brutal force filtering of the shipping filters on the main fic pages.

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In Frog-kun’s case, his community “Some Fresh Air” is a good way to find quality NON-SHIPPING well-written fics in the Prince of Tennis fandom, a fandom notorious for heavy shipping of every possible heterosexual and homosexual combination.

A note about FF.net’s Search Engine

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So, you may have notified that we neglected to discuss the actual search engine filter that’s hovering in the upper left corner of every FF.net page by the menu bar. You can certainly search for fanfics by keyword and then filter your results accordingly by all of the filters we’ve previously mentioned (Word Count, Fandom Category, Language, Genre, Story Status, Characters)–but unless you pick the right keywords, the yield of good fanfic is relatively poor. Unlike AO3, FF.net doesn’t have a standardized system of keywords that are search-friendly and you’ll end up doing a lot of keyword punching until you can find what you’re looking for. We’re not discounting the search engine as an option–it’s just not an efficient way of looking.

Before You Venture into the Fanfic Maze of No Return…Let’s Summarize

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Best Practices for Fanfiction.Net
Search Filters are everybody’s best friend, especially for newbies.
If you’re a responsible adult, set the Ratings filter to “All Ratings.”
Set the Language Filter to your preferred language.
Pick the story length you’re most comfortable with.
The Long Fic Heuristic: longer fics have a higher yield in quality.
The Sort By Filter is KING. In almost all cases, Sort By Reviews.
The Word-Count/Review Count Ratio, scientifically abbreviated as (WCRC-R), is a good way of comparing a fic’s quality. Generally, the lower the WCRC-R, the more likely it is of high quality. This is not an absolute measure though.
First impressions stick for a reason. Preserve your Bad Fic Tolerance Threshold (BFTT) by sticking to fics with good summaries.
A good summary should capture the spirit of the fic and enticingly offer a glimpse of its literary depths in 1-2 sentences. The shorter, the better. Usually.
Avoid bad summaries at all costs.
If you find a fic you like, review! Then Favorite it so you can come back to it later.
After establishing fandom familiarity, do a more efficient, higher percent yield fic search by leveraging your Favorited works, authors and their communities.

The adage, “practice makes perfect”, has never been truer for finding fanfiction, so don’t get too discouraged or traumatized by your first few attempts. With a careful bit of searching, there is plenty of good fanfiction on FF.net to keep all readers–casual and avid–satisfied for years.

And should you somehow happen to exhaust all the riches FF.net has to offer? (which may be a tall tale, but I’ll humor you.) Well, let me tell you again about this little place called Archive of Our Own

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3 thoughts on “Best Practices for Finding Good Fanfiction on Fanfiction.Net

  1. The amount of effort needed to find good fic on ffnet is why I’ve essentially abandoned it for AO3 lol. Tagging system forever.

    (PS. If you haven’t read Green Plastic Table, it. Is. Stellar. NatsuTanu development, well executed and interesting plot line, absolutely heart-wrenchingly emotive. )

    Like

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