Frequently Asked Questions

Reading Stories

The Genre is the story’s overall theme or prevailing tone. This refers to the story as a whole, not to specific elements within the story. A dramatic story can have humorous elements but still be a drama overall. Here are some brief descriptions for each genre:

  • Comedy: The primary tone or purpose of the story is humorous.
  • Drama: The main theme of the story is conflict between people or greater forces. Dramatic stories are usually more 'serious' in tone.
  • Essay: The story is not a story at all, but rather a non-fiction piece about the fictional setting.
  • Horror: The primary purpose of the story is to frighten or unsettle the reader.
  • Romance: The focus of the story is on romances between couples.
  • Satire: Stories in which human qualities are held up for criticism through the use of ridicule, irony, or derision.
  • Tragedy: The primary tone of the story is sad or depressing.

This is simply the time span your story covers. An alternate version of DH covers seventh year. A complete canon retelling covers all seven years and possibly pre- and post-Hogwarts, as well. A missing moment occurs in the year for which it is a missing moment. Stories in which the timeframe is irrelevant or is an intentional mystery use ‘moot’.

Most fanfic by nature changes canon events. “First point of canon divergence” refers to the time at which a story first changes canon. An alternate seventh book first changes canon in seventh year – up to that point, it uses the canon story exactly. A retelling of the entire series changes canon either before Harry goes to Hogwarts or during the time covered by the first book (SS/PS). A post-DH story that disregards the epilogue changes canon events after Harry leaves Hogwarts, which is referred to as “DH – epilogue” on the site. The only stories that do not change canon events are missing moments and post-Hogwarts stories which conform to JKR’s epilogue.

An attribute is a plot element within a story. Basically, what types of things happen in your story? Here are some brief descriptions for each attribute:

  • Action: Basically, action sequences. Fight scenes, broom chases, Quidditch matches, dramatic rescues, that sort of thing.
  • Adventure: A journey with steps and stages along the way. Harry’s retrieving Ginny from the Chamber was an action-sequence, but it wasn’t long enough to be adventure. The trio’s journey in DH was an adventure.
  • Angst: Anxiety or depression experienced by the characters.
  • Death: People die in the story, on the page. You can refer to a death without it being an integral part of the plot.
  • Fluff: Light-hearted interaction that generally leave the reader feeling positive and happy.
  • Humor: Elements that are funny.
  • Mild Sexual Situations: Intimate content described in physical terms, suitable for readers aged 13 to 17.
  • Romance: Romantic content between two characters. It is possible for a story which is dramatic or comedic or tragic in general to still contain elements of romance. If there is any focus on a couple in the story, use the Romance tag.
  • Sexual Situations: Intimate content suitable for ages 17 and up. Explicit sexual content (aka porn of any kind or degree) is forbidden on Metafic.
  • Time Travel: Time travel is used as a plot element. When combined with various points of canon-divergence, this attribute can denote “time travel retellings”.
  • Violence: Magical or non-magical battles, ferret-bashing, and rampant destruction of property are all violence. Events referred to but not actually occurring ‘on the page’ do not warrant the violence attribute.

Warnings are intended to inform readers of certain plot elements prior to their reading of the story. This allows a reader to avoid a story if s/he does not want to read the content in question. Here are some brief descriptions for each warning:

  • Abuse: The story contains mental, physical, and/or sexual abuse. If you’re not sure your story needs this warning, you should probably add it.
  • Alcohol/Drug Abuse: Characters in the story drink alcohol in a consistent and/or negative manner, and/or they use drugs in any way.
  • Disturbing Imagery: Descriptions are strongly unpleasant, disgusting, gory, or aversive in other ways. This applies to any sort of scene, not just violent sequences.
  • Extreme Language: Characters use language that is not appropriate around children. If you’re not sure, use the warning.
  • Rape: A character involved in the story is raped. You may mention rape, but if it happens to someone you’re writing about, even peripherally, you should use the warning.
  • Sexual Description: Sexual situations in the story are described in detail rather than simply referred to. Explicitly graphic content (aka porn of any type or degree) is forbidden on Metafic.

If you’re writing dark fiction, you don’t have to simply label it as such. Instead, use the existing genres, attributes, and warnings to show why it is dark. A good start might be the Tragedy or Horror genres.

Two reasons.

  1. The most common ratings systems are copyrighted, and using them on a fanfiction site is a violation of that copyright.
  2. We hope to avoid over-generalization of stories based on ratings. Rather than using an arbitrary and fluid system of interpretive ratings, we hope to provide each reader with information about the actual content of a story (attributes, warnings, etc) that will help them to decide whether or not to read that story.
  1. Log in to the site and go to your user profile (the "My Account" link in the left navigation pane).
  2. Near the top of the page, click on "Apply for role".
  3. In the drop-down list, choose "Authenticated reader," and then click "Apply."

Your request will be sent to the admins for processing. Once your status is in place, you will be able to see unpublished original fiction on the story lists and in search results.

Important: Authors who post original fiction on Metafic may also be trying to publish their stories at magazines or online publications. To make it possible for them to do this, we have to make sure that original stories aren't "publicly available" -- that is, they can't be visible on a Google search or by someone who's just surfing the Web. If they were, then magazines would refuse to publish them. That's why these stories are viewable only to Authenticated Readers.

By joining the "Authenticated Readers" group, you agree that you won't copy any part of the stories, or discuss them anywhere except in comments made on Metafic itself.

The Metafic/Cracked Muggle administrators invite people to be judges based on one of two key criteria:  (a) they are an author of note in our opinions, or (b) they are a reviewer that goes above and beyond by at least an order of magnitude.

We’ve asked people to participate as a judge in general, knowing that for specific challenges they might either be unable to judge due to lack of interest (or time), or else they might be barred due to having a submission for that particular challenge.

The judging process uses a points-based system, much like the peer-review process for scientific publications.  Unlike those publications, however, we have some hard and fast break points that will be evaluated.   The scale of judging per entry is based on the following set of discrete choices:

  1. Poor entry; Recommend a strong rejection of this work
  2. Weak entry; Recommend a rejection of this work
  3. Neutral entry; The work has good and bad qualities, but am ultimately indifferent
  4. Good entry; Recommend this for recognition
  5. Outstanding entry; This is a defining work in the area

Each story is rated by each judge in whatever categories are requested.  Judges are not required to give any particular scores: there may be no fics worthy of a 4 or 5 score, or there may be several.  This metric is a score, not a rank in any way.  Most stories could be considered as starting at the value 3, then increasing or decreasing as needed.  Stories with a few errors might receive a 2, while unreadable stories might receive a 1.  Stories that are excellent but not perfect might receive a 4.  Only a small percentage of fanfic stories should receive a score of 5, and they should represent the very best of the genre in question.  Stories scored at 5 should be technically superior with excellent prose, solid characterizations, and a very engaging plot and/or premise.

In the case of a tie among entries, there is one “recused judge” who is normally non-voting and is also not allowed to submit an entry for judging (any judge may submit an entry and receive reviews, but they cannot be voted on).  This recused judge is there for moderation in the case of questions about entries following the rules, as well as casting any tie-breaking vote.  The only time the recused judge may vote is in the case of a tie: in that case the recused judge votes only to break the tie and does not vote on the other stories in the challenge.  When any voting judge has a question or concern, their first point of contact should always be the recused judge.

Any score of “1” automatically renders the entry ineligible to win anything.  If any judge truly feels that strongly about a work, there must be something wrong with it.  Upon receipt of any “1” vote, the mediating judge may opt to instigate a dialog if it seems particularly out of alignment with other votes.   The objective is not to change the vote but to ensure that sound reasoning lies behind it and no bias or mistake was made.

In terms of the criteria, judges currently rate each challenge entry on two metrics:

  1. Overall merit based on technical skills, following the rules, quality of work, and “compliance to the spirit” of the challenge
  2. Novelty and Dynamic Range of the author in their entry

The key aspect to the second category is that it cannot exist outside of the first category.  Any entry that fails on the technical aspects cannot win in the second category.  That said, from a collection of many entries that do conform to the expectations, there may be one story that is best “overall” in quality of work, while a separate story may stand out for particular novelty or insight on the part of the author.

The purpose of the CM challenges is only partially about a given theme or topic; for the most part, the challenges exist to encourage the author to do something they would not otherwise do.  This translates to advancing their mechanics, grammar, plot elements, ability to characterize, and so forth.  

To that end, we ask all judges to do two things:

  1. Carefully read each entry and leave detailed reviews for each one.  These reviews should address not only the skill in writing mechanics displayed by the author, but should also comment on those things which were done well or poorly – characterization, use of cliché, unnecessary or abrupt plot points, etc.
  2. After reading and reviewing all entries, submit a private email to the mediating judge containing ratings for each story in each category.  

The mediating judge tallies all votes and announces the final numeric score results to all judges.  In the case of a tie, the mediating judge may ask for a dialog of consensus or simply cast a tie-breaking vote without discussion.  Upon request, the mediating judge must email to all the judges the anonymized scores received along with their point tallies from each judge.  If there is concern remaining over the scores or final results, the mediating judge turns over the original emails to the Metafic site owner for verification purposes only.

When each challenge has been fully judged, the mediating judge or a non-competing administrator will announce the results as well as the list of judges who participated in that particular challenge evaluation.

Posting Stories
The main purpose of MetaFic's archive function is to host and preserve the Cracked Muggle writing challenges. Aside from that, the site hosts stories written by the administrators, their betas, and authors for whom they have worked as betas. We may also invite other established authors to post here, subject to individual approval by the admins. This will primarily be an invitation-only system. If you would like to post at MetaFic and feel that your work meets the site's standards, send a PM to Sovran through the MetaFic system.
  1. Log in to the site and go to your user profile (the "My Account" link in the left navigation pane).
  2. Near the top of the page, click on "Apply for role".
  3. In the drop-down list, choose "Challenge Author," and then click "Apply."

Your request will be sent to the admins for processing. Once your status is in place, you can post your story using the instructions below.

  1. Make sure you have author status. If you don't, follow the instructions above to apply for author status.
  2. Once your status is in place, log-in to the site and click “Create Content” in the left-hand menu
  3. On the Create Content page, click “Story”
    • On the Submit Story page, enter your story’s basic information (Title, completion status, main character(s), Genre, Timeframe, Canon divergence, Attributes, Warnings, and Summary).
    • Enter your story’s betas, if any. If one or more of your betas are Metafic members, you can enter their usernames in the “Registered Betas” fields. You can enter other betas in the “Additional Betas” field (all on one line).
    • At the bottom of the page, click ‘preview’ to see how your story will be presented on the site, or click ‘submit’ to submit your story.
  4. Once a story’s basic information is entered, you need to submit the body of the story as a chapter. After entering the story information, you’ll be shown your story page, and you’ll see a link for “Create new Chapter.” Click the link.
    • Enter the chapter name, chapter number (use 1 for prologues if needed), and the body text of your story.
    • If you are using HTML tags in your story (for bold, italics, etc), click the “Input format” menu and select either Filtered HTML or DocFrac HTML. For more information about DocFrac, see this page.
    • Enter any Author’s notes. These will show at the bottom of your chapter.
    • Click ‘preview’ to see how your chapter will be presented on the site, or click ‘submit’ to submit your chapter.
  5. Once submitted, both Stories and Chapters will be sent to the validation queue. Once validated, your story and/or chapter will be posted and published to the front page of the site.
  6. If your story is a submission for a Cracked Muggle challenge, an admin will add it to the challenge category.
The admins retain the right to edit any story or chapter information to ensure compliance with Metafic's formatting and classification structure. We will not edit the body of a chapter without communicating with the author.

Follow the same procedure you would for fanfiction (above), but for the Story Type, Timeframe, and Canon Compliance properties, choose "Original Fiction."

Note: If you are posting a story which you might want to publish at any point, check the box marked "Private" on the Submit Story page. If you do not, your story may be ineligible for formal publication, because editors might consider it to have already been made available to the general public. If you are sure that you will never seek to publish a given story, you do not need to check the 'private' box.

Metafic does not require any shipping in posted stories. When used, romantic relationships must match those in canon. They should either match canon during the story’s timeframe (i.e. Harry and Cho during part of OotP), or they should ultimately match JKR’s established permanent relationships. For the site’s purposes, “canon” refers only to material contained in the seven novels; the information revealed in JKR’s interviews, articles, and other sources need not be considered canon. The site admins reserve the right to change this policy.

If your main character is not on the list of available characters, you have two choices:

  1. Use the 'Other' option on the list
  2. Contact an admin and ask that the character be added to the list

If you are writing about an obscure or original character, use the 'other' option. If you think that you or another author might write additional stories about the same character, then feel free to request an addition to the list.