This article is part of a series, if you haven’t read the rest start with “Fanfiction 101: Where to read and post”.
Aren’t they just a copy of the work of the fandom you are writing for?
Canon compliant fics are fics that are extensions of the canon universe ( canon is the material accepted as part of the story in an individual universe of that story. It is often contrasted with, or used as the basis for, works of fan fiction). There are no deviations in setting, times, characters or events that have taken place in the accepted world. (@everlarkficquestions on tumblr).
Other definitions can be works that do not contradict the events of the source (s) story and fanfics that could be part of the canon itself (which is my own interpretation of this genre).
Pre-canon (a.k.a. far past and near past fanfics): These are works that explore the events that happened before the audience met the characters. For example, if the canon has an already established couple a pre-canon fanfic would narrate how they met and got together.
Post-canon (a.k.a. canon continuation and far future): These are works that explore what might have happened after the end of the story, fannish sequels so to speak. They might also explore, in serialized stories, their own version of a season 2 meanwhile the show is in hiatus after season 1.
Missing scenes (a.k.a. interlude and extended scenes): The fanfics in this category explore the moments the canon narrative had to skip because of time constraints or plot reasons. Very popular in media that utilizes time-skips far too much.
Different POV (a.k.a. alternative perspective): Fanfiction that tells the story from another character perspective: the right-hand-person, antagonist, mentor, etc. They are especially popular in fandoms where their source text is narrated in third-close perspective or first.
These works can also be stories that explore the effects of the story events that happen in another place. For example, how the war between A-Country and B-Country affected country B, or C-Country which was in the middle of them.
Original Character’s Story: Fan works that add a new character to the story, they do not interact with the main characters of the story but are affected by the events of the narrative nonetheless.
I Bestowed Upon You Representation: A category of my own, that might seem canon-divergent. In which an author interprets the events of the story as it happened but with the added bonus of diversity (mostly sexual diversity, though gender, racial and disabled diversity also form part).
The reason I consider it canon-compliant is because often the author makes a case about how the subtext and/or coding was already there and is just bringing it to the forefront. And most of the time it recontextualizes rather than changes the character’s characterization.
Works that do not try to argue the change in this part of the character’s identity, and generally don’t care about canon, don’t count as part of canon-compliant in my eyes, however.
Staying canon-compliant however is the main challenge. If you are unlucky enough to find yourself part of the comic or tv shows fandom, this might prove an almost impossible task, considering the knack these two types of media have for contradicting themselves.
In the comic fandom it is customary to put in the writer’s note which works / comics are the ones you’re drawing your “canon” from. And in terms of tv shows, a work who might have been tagged canon-compliant could end-up contradicting the story because of the nature of serialized stories, which is why authors later re-tag their work as canon-divergent.
Some readers and writers argue that fanfiction would never be canon-compliant since the author will always bring their interpretation of the story which will interfere with that of the author (s).
“In practice, canon compliance is more of a sliding scale and less of an absolute in fanfic [...]Fic headers often contain information about what the fic is compliant with (e.g. diverges after season 2, compliant with movie canon, etc.).” (fanlore.org)
Therefore another alternative for canon-compliant authors use is canon-related.
In conclusion, canon-compliant fanfics strive to add new perspectives, explore established ideas, and characters while doing their absolute hardest to not contradict the events of the story or the characterization of its characters.
Unlike canon-divergent and alternate universe fanfic, which I will talk about next month. So stay tuned!
Ari Ochoa Petzo
is a Mexican-Venezuelan bi genderfluid writer. They like dancing to old music and history. In their free time you can find xem trying to coerce their friends to participate in another of their crazy projects.
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