Another thing that’s cool about fanfiction: it’s as long as it needs to be.

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Title: Note: the meta is untitled and is referred to here by its first sentence.
Creator: pervocracy
Date(s): October 31, 2019
Medium: Posted to tumblr
Fandom: Pan-Fandom
Topic: Fanfiction length
External Links: on tumblr, archive link
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Another thing that’s cool about fanfiction: it’s as long as it needs to be. is a short meta posted to tumblr by pervocracy. The meta discusses how the lack of a fixed length requirements impacts fanfiction as a genre, in contrast to traditionally published original fiction. As of September 2020, the post has over 28,000 notes.

The Post

"[...] Well, sometimes it’s longer than anything on God’s green earth needs to be, but my point is that there’s really no rules about fic length. In traditional publishing there’s this awkward middle where nobody wants to print a novella that’s too long for a short story collection but doesn’t really fill out a book. Ebooks have changed that somewhat but it’s still a convention that a book is about 75,000 words.

Fanfic is not bound by this standard. If your story takes 25,000 words to tell, then you can do that, and there are readers for whom that’s a sweet spot. If you just want to keep going and going for 350,000 words and beyond, nobody’s going to say “only famous authors with grand ideas get to do that”–text is low bandwidth and there are readers who will love the feeling that your story is a home where they’re invited to stay as long as they like.

Sometimes restrictions breed creativity, and some writers need to be forced to edit themselves. But some writers know exactly what they’re doing when they make a story a certain length, and it’s awesome that the Internet has created spaces that put no limits on that."[1]


"this was a huge realization for me. i’m trying to write longer stuff, but i can write like, 500 to 1000 word shorts very easily, and one day I had the realization that you can just publish those on the internet, and someone will get something out of them. It’s helped me write a ton more, because i can just write 800 words about an idea, and then publish it and then it’s done, as well as having longer projects or ideas in the works. Fanfiction is as long as it needs to be."[2]
"We now live in a world where literary escapes can be found in a varitety of form factors. And that is fantastic to witness.

Print media is far from dead, we are keeping the market alive for paperbacks, hardcovers, and leather-bound works in the 75k word range. At the same time we have these internet based publications that vary wildly, authors can pour our their thoughts into living works that grow or condense as they themselves develop and their world building methods change.

For readers it is easier than ever to find a story arc and dive into it. And chances are you can find a community out there doing the same thing."[3]

"I will note here that the longest English work of literature in existence is Fanfiction for Super Smash Brothers. It’s about 50% longer than the compiled works of JRR Tolkien last I checked, and was originally started by a native Spanish speaker to practice English. It just kinda kept going. Not sure if it’s still ongoing or if it wrapped up."[4]
"In general, there are fewer restrictions in fanfiction than in commercial fiction. Marketed writers have to be aware of what they say, what they show, how many sex scenes they include, how detailed those scenes are, what the Karen Legion will assume if they include such scenes, and more. Fanfic writers? You can write Daddy-complex shifter romances with frickin’ knotting and, on AO3, the only legit reason someone can cancel you is if one of the characters is a minor and you didn’t note it.

Yes, professional writers get paid for their writing, but the amount of self-censoring that happens makes you wonder if it’s worth it."[5]

"I once read a 700k BNHA fic (The Dark Below) and it’s probably my favorite piece of literature and I think about it every damn day."[6]
"Yes!! and also it doesn’t have to have an end or a point! You can have 350,000 words where every chapter is just what they did the next day! It’s like scripted reality tv shows or youtube stars, where the whole point is “and then they did some more stuff”. People LIKE that, people get a lot of out that, and honestly it’s a shame that professionally published fiction hasn’t been able to support that kind of storytelling since the death of the serialized novel in the newspaper.

Not to mention the short-shorts. Some really good stories are 100 words, or 500 words, or 50 words. And you can post those! And other people can read them!"[7]


  1. ^ Post by pervocracy
  2. ^ Reblog by fudgehogs, Archived version Accessed and archived on September 4, 2020.
  3. ^ Reblog by theothersideoftheside, Archived version Accessed and archived September 4, 2020.
  4. ^ Reblog by psybomb, Archived version Accessed and archived September 4, 2020.
  5. ^ Reblog by writing-refs-junkpile, Archived version Accessed and archived on September 11, 2020.
  6. ^ Reblog by mermaidmayonnaise, Archived version Accessed and archived September 11, 2020.
  7. ^ Reblog by whetherwoman, Archived version Accessed and archived September 11, 2020.