It’s hard to find really good fanfics, especially when the platform you use hosts a lot of fandoms. FanFiction.Net is one of the oldest and one of the most popular fanfic sites, but it can be hard to find high quality stories. Now, I can binge on poorly written fanfics or crackfics, but I love reading fanfics that are as good as any published novel or short story. I’ve read complaints recently that said it’s hard to find these stories, so I’m going to share my methods for finding quality fanfiction on FanFiction.Net.
If you haven’t heard of FanFiction.Net (FFN), this website is a classic and major database of fanfiction for tons of fandoms. Fanfiction is available in a lot of languages too. The site’s design hasn’t changed much over the years, so it looks pretty old school. It also has a sister site, FictionPress, which publishes original fiction and poems.
Let me give you some background. I’ve used FFN since 2010, and it’s been my primary resource for all of my fandoms. Most of the fanfics I read are from Harry Potter, so I’ve been fortunate to have a plethora of stories to choose from.
Let’s move on to my methods for finding good fanfiction.
Warning: Results may vary depending on the fandom, the number of stories available, and how often writers write and update chapters.
Check Your Favorite Writer’s Favorites Lists
Amazing writers tend to know where you can find other amazing writers and fics. Those favorites often have the same characters or subject-matter that your favorite writer uses. So, take some time to explore your favorite writer’s favorite stories and favorite authors. You can also look at their favorites.
To do this, go to the writer’s profile. Scroll down as you would to find their stories, but stop when you see the “My Stories” tab. Next to that tab are the tabs for “Favorite Stories” and “Favorite Authors.” Click one of those and explore.
Look for Your Community
In the upper tabs of the website, there’s a tab called “Community.” Communities are archives created by volunteer users of the site to collect stories that fit a certain criteria. For example, a few of the Harry Potter fandom’s communities focus on Veelas, Dark!Harry, or the Marauders.
Go to the Community tab. Find your fandom and then look at the communities that are available.
I admit that there are problems with using communities. I haven’t had great success with smaller fandoms, like Coraline and Danny Phantom. There are just too few communities and too few stories for this to be effective.
What if you’re just browsing or using the search box? Use the filters! These aren’t only for picking stories in your language or finding your OTP. They can help you find a great story.
If you don’t know where to find the filters, they’re usually at the top of the page. In the browse tab (after you’ve selected your fandom), click the button that says “Filters.” Here is a screenshot of the open filters.
If you went to the Just In tab, you will have three filters to play with at the top, and they won’t be under a button. If you’re using the built-in search engine, your filters will be on the sidebar, but you won’t have as many as the Browse filters.
These work best when you are browsing for stories or using the built in search engine.
FFN defaults the ratings filter to K through T, which means suitable for most ages to teens (like G through PG-13 in movie ratings). You can change this filter to specific ranges of your choice.
I tend to find the best stories in T and M ratings, but there are many amazing stories in K and K+ too. My advice: set the ratings filter to “All.” This way you will see all of the possible great stories that exist. Some writers voluntarily mark their stories at higher ratings in case they add scenes or words that wouldn’t be welcome in safer rankings, so this is a good reason to include M in your searches.
However, you should know that some writers who’ve been on the site for a while lived through a crackdown or two on explicit content. Some of them will tell you in their stories or bios that their M-rated stories (those that were historically banned, like chapters with lemons or extremely graphic violence) can be found on other sites. One of the major sources to find those full stories is adult-fanfiction.org. As far as I know, I am unaware of there being a crackdown like this since 2012. You can find out more about the FFN purges on Fanlore.
Note: These ratings, like movie ratings, are intended to mark the suitability of content for certain audiences. If you are younger than 16, you should avoid anything marked with an M. If you would like to know more about these ratings, FFN lists them on their guidelines page.
I’m someone who believes in “the more words, the better” for a fanfic. Some people disagree, but in my experience, stories with more words tend to be better quality.
A safe minimum to go with is 10,000 words. You start seeing even better results at greater than 40,000 words.
Tip: Make a quick ratio of the word count to number of chapters. If each chapter has an average 1,000 words or less, you should probably skip it.
You can try playing with the other filters to find success. They might help, and they might not.
Tip: The pairing option doesn’t show all that’s available for Harry Potter (and probably other older fandoms) because that option hasn’t always been around.
Note about the App
I use the FFN app on my four year old Kindle Fire. I haven’t been able to make the filter settings work in the search engine in the same way that the website works, so I recommend searching in your browser and then reading the story in the app.
I hope this helps you find good fanfics on FanFiction.Net.
Do you have any tips for finding good fanfics on this site or the app?