Everyone stories should be appropriate for general audiences. They should include no content that a parent would find objectionable for a child. The general idea here is “things that would be reasonable to see on the show itself.”
Teen is our general-content category: most plots can be written to stay within the boundaries of the teen rating. Teen is likely best defined by what is not allowed: description of sexual acts, highly charged sexual situations, and detailed description of violence or injuries.
The sex tag, when used with a teen rating, is used as a warning that the story contains lightly-charged sexual situations, innuendo, or vaguely implied (but not described!) sexual acts. Some light kissing is fine, light touching generally is too, but if things get heavily charged, you need to move to the mature tag.
The gore tag, when used with a teen rating, is used as a warning that the story contains (generally somewhat vague) descriptions of violence, bloodshed, or injuries. We will generally allow a decent bit of violence here, but if a ton of people are dying or you’re describing gruesome injuries, you’ll need to move it to mature.
Unlike teen and everyone, mature stories can include detailed descriptions of sex and/or violence, as long as the stories don’t break other site rules. Neither violence nor sexual content are required for a story to be rated mature however, as it also implies stories that deal with difficult situations in a much more intense way than the other two ratings do. The bottom line is that mature stories are more risky, explicit and intended for an adult audience.
The sex tag, when used with the mature rating, is used as a warning that the story contains detailed descriptions of sexual acts. teen-level sexual acts are generally fine in Mature without this tag, however.
The gore tag, when used with the mature rating, is used as a warning that the story contains extreme violence, detailed description of injuries, mass death, and similar violence-heavy themes.
In general categories are used to describe overall themes, a comedic moment in one paragraph in a story that is otherwise devoid of it should probably not be tagged comedy.
Stories where the reader is the protagonist of the story and referenced directly by the narration and use of a second person point of view, using the appropriate pronouns to reference the reader/protagonist. “You go on a date with Twilight” — that sort of thing.
Stories that focus on action or undertaking risk to achieve the character’s goal. They involve leaving home and exploring new places, where danger might lurk or the need for quick action is required. Fantasy epics or war stories focused on the exploits of the characters against overwhelming odds are usual staples of this genre.
Stories that take place in a world significantly diverged from canon. Changing the outcome of major events, large setting changes, or anything else that represents a large break from canon, particularly if the change is something that does not happen during the story itself. Stories that start at a point in canon and diverge through character development or other in-story events generally do not qualify as AU.
AU is not, however, appropriate for cases where MLP:FiM has no significant impact on the story. When all characters are stripped of their defining features and replaced with fundamentally different traits and characterization, any and all relevance to MLP:FiM is discarded.
Stories in which the characters are even more anthropomorphic, generally bipedal and having an appearance that resembles a hybrid of human and pony anatomy, such as hands and feet instead of hooves.
Stories marked with the comedy tag focus on humor, but aren’t necessarily limited to slapstick or randomness. Comedy can be random or it can focus on a subject and draw the ludicrousness of an aspect of it to the fore through more subtle dialogue or scene descriptions. The point is to bring a smile or a laugh to the reader. Sometimes situations are ridiculous or the reactions of the characters are at odds with expectations. As long as the purpose of the story is humorous, this tag can be used.
Basically fanfiction for multiple fandoms at the same time, drawing from two or more sources for the story’s ‘canon’. Naturally, one of the fandoms in question must be MLP:FiM or Equestria Girls in order to meet general posting rules of the site.
Dark stories contain aspects that deal with grim situations where hope seems to be lost or the ‘good guys’ have lost the battle or are losing it with horrifying consequences. Tyranny, torture, war and death are common themes for these type of stories. While the tag doesn’t mean necessarily that evil ultimately prevails, it does heavily imply that it is for the most part winning. This tag may also apply to stories with particularly unsettling concepts, such as a character’s descent into insanity.
This type of story focuses on the realistic, emotional reactions of characters involved in some serious life-affecting problem. It explores the various characters’ conflicting feelings between each other and within themselves.
Stories that take place in the Equestria Girls universe. Only for stories where it plays a significant part. If the story primarily takes place in Equestria, such as a “Sunset Shimmer returns to Equestria” plot, that’d get the Sunset Shimmer tag but not the Equestria Girls tag. Equestria Girls stories should not be tagged Human unless they also contain non-Equestria Girls humans.
The purpose of horror stories is to scare, terrify or otherwise horrify your readers by inducing fear through what happens to the characters or building a justified expectation of things going to end up badly for them.
The characters are humans, or a human character is involved that is not because of a crossover or Equestria Girls.
Mystery stories involve some sort of situation (crime, death, disappearance) that needs to be solved. Usually several characters are involved, many of them with a motive to commit the crime or cause the situation that needs to be resolved.
Stories that are very random and unpredictable, generally involving a lot of unexplained occurrences and behavior.
The romance tag is used for love stories of some sort, where the focus is on the growth of a loving relationship between characters.
Depressing themes generally designed to evoke sadness or other depressing emotions in the reader. Basically the opposite of what you might read if you’re trying to cheer yourself up.
Stories taking place in a futuristic setting or with advanced technology. Dealing with topics such as alien life, space travel, time travel, parallel universes, etc. Stories of this genre generally explore what a world could be like when such things are possible within the realm of science.
Slice of Life
A story focusing on daily, normal experiences. Unlike adventure, the story is not driven by action or discovery of new, exciting things, rather bringing the mundane to attention, such as attending school or a dinner party.
A thriller is not necessarily a horror story. It’s a story that has an exciting plot that keeps you at “the edge of your seat,” much like an action movie. Things continuously move in this type of story, and when it slows down it’s only because it’s going to get more intense.
The literary term “Tragedy” shouldn’t be confused with how the expression of something being “tragic” is used. A sad story is not necessarily a tragedy when in writing. Tragedy involves the downfall or failure of the main character. This again, does not mean that they die—the tragedy can lie in the failure to achieve something they have worked for through the whole story. The build-up to such a thing and the eventual failure is what the tragedy is.