When I became a writer and started with my stories, I had to classify them. Considering the existence of so many genres, I had a hard time to choose.
Where are the differences between the genres? I needed to get research done:
My research showed me that fantasy is a genre of fiction using magic and supernatural phenomena as a primary element.
It might be based on myth or legends or even Science that doesn’t exist (yet).
Fantasy encompasses numerous subgenres. And now we are getting to a list I love! The complexity of the fantasy genre is fascinating!
- Bangsian fantasy, interactions with famous historical figures in the afterlife, named for John Kendrick Bangs
- Comic fantasy, humorous in tone
- Contemporary fantasy set in the real world but involving magic or other supernatural elements
- Dark fantasy, including elements of horror fiction
- Dieselpunk, similar to steampunk but with early 20th-century technology
- Epic fantasy compares High fantasy (below)
- Fairy tales themselves, and fairytale fantasy, which draws on fairy tale themes
- Fantastic poetry, poetry with a fantastic theme
- Fantastique, French literary genre involving supernatural elements
- Fantasy of manners, or mannerpunk, focusing on matters of social standing in the way of a comedy of manners
- Gaslamp fantasy, stories in a Victorian or Edwardian setting, influenced by gothic fiction
- Gods and demons fiction (shenmo), involving the gods and monsters of Chinese mythology
- Hard fantasy, whose supernatural aspects are consistent and explainable, named in analogy to hard science fiction
- High fantasy or epic fantasy, characterized by a plot and themes of epic scale
- Heroic fantasy concerned with the tales of heroes in imaginary lands
- Historical fantasy, historical fiction with fantasy elements
- Juvenile fantasy, children’s literature with fantasy elements
- Legends, which combine a possible factual basis with fictional material
- Low fantasy, characterized by few or non-intrusive supernatural elements, in contrast to high fantasy
- Magic realism, a genre of literary fiction incorporating minor supernatural elements
- Mythic fiction, rooted in or inspired by myth, folklore, and fairy tales
- Mythopoeia, which creates a fictional mythology
- Paranormal romance, romantic fiction with fantasy elements
- Romantic fantasy, focusing on romantic relationships
- Science fantasy, including elements of science fiction, comprising the subgenres:
- Steampunk, featuring anachronistic steam-powered machinery and Victorian era-inspired societies
- Sword and sorcery, adventures of sword-wielding heroes more limited in scope than epic fantasy
- Urban fantasy set in a city
- Weird fiction, a label for macabre and unsettling stories from before the terms “fantasy” and “horror” were widely used; also the most modern forms of slipstream fiction and the New Weird
- Wuxia, Chinese martial arts fiction often incorporating fantasy elements
What subgenre do I categorize my own stories in?
Here it’s getting difficult. The only thing that’s clear is that my writing is ‘fantasy’.
At the moment, I am working on several stories. I’d sort one of them within the subgenre ‘urban fantasy’, the other one might be identified as “heroic fantasy.’ The novel I work on is a mix between ‘Contemporary fantasy’ – and ‘paranormal romance’.
And here I am now, switching between the real world, fantasy worlds, romance, funny characters, creepy creatures, and magic.
I love what I do! And even though the fantasy genre with its numerous subgenres is a little confusing, I’m sure I am working myself into it.
What is it that I like so much about fantasy that I decided on this genre? I think it is quite easy to answer this question. I can let my imagination run amok. If I am going to turn the hair of my heroine blue and give her gills, who will stop me? If I decide to create a child with magical abilities, who will tell me that it “cannot be”? I love myths, legends, and mystical creatures like unicorns… and once in a while I need a protagonist being a princess. This is why fantasy is just my genre. (or – paranormal romance, or contemporary fantasy… Maybe I should try to categorize my story after completing it.)
One of my favorite books is a fantasy book. I identified it a mix of Science fantasy and dark fantasy. It is: “Watchers”, written by Dean Koontz. I love this book even though it’s one of Dean Koontz older books. It impressed me and I never forgot it I wish I one day can touch my readers as much as Dean Koontz can do it.
Do you have a favorite genre or subgenre you read or write in? Don’t be shy, please tell me!