What is Original Gen, Original Het, and Original Slash?

By Dusk Peterson

Sections below:

* Definitions of Original Gen, Original Het, and Original Slash
* Original Gen, Original Het, and Original Slash at This Domain


Original fiction is a term used in the fan fiction community for writings that are not fan fiction; that is, the characters and setting are original works, created by the authors.

Original fiction is divided into three genres.

Original gen or original genfic: Stories that do not focus primarily on romantic feelings or sexual attraction.

Original het or original hetfic: Stories in which heterosexual attraction plays an important role.

Original slash or original slashfic: Stories in which homosexual attraction plays an important role.

There has been controversy in the fan fiction community over whether terms such as "slash," which originally applied only to fan fiction, should be applied to original works that have a similar quality to fan fiction. The Fan History Wiki contents itself with saying briefly, "Original fiction is generally differentiated from the fiction you buy in the stores because it is written by fan fiction writers." However, this isn't entirely true, since some authors who call their writings original fiction have never written fan fiction.

Similarly, there has been a great deal of debate among writers of original works over whether these genre terms should exist at all, or whether the genres should be labelled by already existing terms, such as "gay fiction."

Probably the most practical definition of these three genres is that they encompass original works that are created for, or published within, the fan fiction community. As such, the stories tend to adopt many of the literary conventions that occur often in fan fiction.

The term "slash" has recently been used by some small presses seeking to attract the same sort of readers who read similar genres, such as yaoi or gay romance. However, with the exception of a brief section on original slash at Wikipedia, the term "original slash" is not often used outside of the fan fiction community. Even the current version of that article is apologetic about the terminology, stating that original slash is "properly termed Homoerotic Fiction but [it is] very often termed 'original slash', perhaps in an effort to better relate to the vast slash fanfiction audience thriving on the Internet, or perhaps because several of the authors participating in the genre priorly participated in slash fanfiction." Alas, the term homoerotic fiction is itself a source of controversy.

The terms original gen and original het are rarely used. This probably reflects the fact that it is fairly easy to get works of original fiction published if they focus heterosexual attraction or on no attraction at all. By contrast, it remains difficult to publish "slashy" works of original fiction, though genre romance presses are beginning to show interest in the original writings of authors from the slash community. Original slash authors whose stories fall outside the conventions of genre romance may seek to be published by mainstream publishers, GLBT presses, or yaoi presses, or they may self-publish or simply continue publishing only within the fan fiction community.

More information on original slash can be found at RomanceWiki's article on slash and yaoi (written by myself) and at The Slash Skinny. Unfortunately, no central source of information is available on original gen and original het, but many online story archives accept all genres of original fiction, the biggest being FictionPress.com.


When I stumbled across the fan fiction community in 2001, I discovered that a number of my stories followed conventions that were common in the fan fiction community, such as hurt/comfort. I think this happy coincidence was due to the fact that I am (among other things) a fantasy writer, and the fan fiction community is descended from science fiction and fantasy fandom. Many fan fiction techniques can also be found in professionally published science fiction and fantasy.

I was quickly tagged an "original fiction" author by the fan fiction community, a label I'm happy to embrace, though I'm also called a gay fiction author by readers of gay fiction, a fantasy author by readers of fantasy, a romance author by readers of romance, and so forth. I announce my original works in a variety of fiction communities, and I try my best to use their various terms for my writings at my sites, so that readers from those communities can know that they'll find the type of writing that they're looking for. Occasionally, this will mean that I use a term (such as historical fantasy or darkfic) that is unfamiliar outside a particular community, but I hope that readers from outside the community can cope with momentary puzzlement.

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Creative Commons License: Some Rights ReservedThis text, or a variation on it, was originally published at duskpeterson.com. Copyright © 2008 Dusk Peterson. Some rights reserved. The text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0). You may freely print, post, e-mail, share, or otherwise distribute the text for noncommercial purposes, provided that you include this paragraph. The author's policies on derivative works and fan works are available online (duskpeterson.com/copyright.htm).