Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Song

A song that tells a story, albeit a rather tragic one: "The Wicked Sister" by Meav. It's Celtic, and sort of upbeat despite being about a wicked woman who drowns her younger sister in order to steal her bridegroom.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Letters to Life: For the Sake of Diversity!

Dear People of Everywhere:

There's a thing in psychology. A big question. It circles pretty much everything people-related: is it nature or nurture?

I like this question. It's a good question to ask about things. Are you doing this because you are born with it in your veins, or are you doing it because you were raised with it? I don't really see other ways to the why behind any question. After all, nurture is there every time in your life; it's not a question of childhood, it's a question of environment.

For example: I'm a Baptist Christian. Happy to be one, actually. And I would guess that it might have something to do with the fact that the preschool I attended once upon a time also happens to double as my church today. Some of my earliest memories took place there: laughing and running around the playground outside, the stained glass windows of the sanctuary, the Sunday school/preschool classroom on the ground floor with its rug with the alphabet on it... happy times.

As I believe it, God gave us free will, which is why religion can be a nurture question, and not a nature question.

What does this have to do with anything? I assume that you don't visit this blog to listen to my religious views. (Really, though, it's about all my views. Including my religious views.) This example is just a lead-up to my main point.

Which, I suppose, goes along the lines of: why judge people on a matter of nature, when there are things to disagree with about nurture?

Not that I'm advocating prejudice of any kind. But I realize that wariness over differences can almost be counted as nature nowadays. We are nurtured from such a young age over trivial things, that it really can seem like nature. (See toy advertising words and gendered culture.)

When I say "trivial things," I mean by my perspective. The broad things, like gender and sexual orientation and skin color. That prejudice is taught from a very early age indeed. (I mean, have you ever walked down a children's toys aisle? All pink down one side, all blue down the other. It's disturbing. I preferred the gender-neutral libraries as a kid.) Not to say they are trivial to everyone, just that they are not the small, everyday things like how someone's voice is pitched at just that most annoying pitch, and that song that you hate is that person's favorite song. I pay attention to those smaller things. (I don't talk to people often, so really, by "trivial", I mean the things I don't keep an opinion on when I meet you. I keep an opinion only on whether you've annoyed me by interrupting my reading for a reason I don't care about.)

In books, you see things pretty clearly. How many times do we rip on Bella for being a weak, clingy, obsessive girl? And then think that perhaps the story would've been better if it was Edward's. (Or at least, that's what I do. I'm ashamed to say, sexist culture sneaks into my brain sometimes, too.)

I can think of many instances. One time, I was at B&N with my mom (who pays for the books I buy), and she refused to let me buy one about a boy who was gay-bashed. The MC wasn't even the gay boy; it was a female friend of the gay boy. (Of course, that was awhile ago and I can't remember its title or price; but my mother is of the "love the sinner, hate the sin" camp. I do imagine that sexual orientation was a factor.)

Now, gender, sexual orientation, skin color -- these are nature things. Not nurture. The only "nurture" thing about it is the way you look at it. I would hope I am such a tolerant, open-minded person because I have read all sorts of books since kindergarten. I would suspect people who are misogynistic are that way because either: a.) they have been actively taught that; or b.) because they honestly think society is already equal, and therefore misogyny can't exist. 

These things should not matter. It's just the way we're born. It's us who have made this matter.

Keep in mind I'm a teenager and not exactly an expert, but do I have to be? Even toddlers can tell the difference between nature and nurture. How ridiculous would it sound if someone told you that you chose the wrong skin color? (Don't get me started on tanning booths, whitewashing on YA covers, or any other such hogwash.)

So, why is so hard to find these natural things in books? It's not so bad, I gather, here in 2013. I will actively seek out books with a different culture, a woman protagonist, or a LGBTQ protag (I'm pretty sure there are more letters in there somewhere...), so I couldn't tell you about a dearth of them. But I know that the quality of them can be gosh-awful, a lot more than books about straight white guys might be. Particularly when it comes to sex.

Or perhaps it's not bad writing, per se, just harsher judgement from the reader. I don't know. But, as the title of this post implies, I would imagine it's the former, there being some need nowadays to toss in diversity, but seemingly no reason to write it well. Any subtle sexism or racism can be blamed on the character in question -- "It's not that she's a girl, it's her character." Which is a terrible argument, considering that an author (while character's character seems like an imaginary friend who chooses their own personality) does have a small ounce of control over how s/he expresses that character.

Well, so... readers' harsher judgment might be part of that. We will point out anything perceived as weak. Not all of us, not with every character. But it's there.

If the world were up to me, there would be an easy solution: focus on and develop such diverse characters as you do the straight white guy characters. Readers would then love them, because they are good characters. Unfortunately, the world is not up to me, and people will believe whatever they want to about a certain character -- or not believe at all, as the case may be.

Thankfully, there are diverse characters we can all love and hope for a better literary future because of: Hermione Granger, Holly Short (who does happen to be a POC, even if she's whitewashed in the graphic novels), Eona... (I'm having trouble coming up with LGBTQ characters. I avoid romance on principle, and I somehow think that LGBTQ ended a rather small niche in mainstream genre fiction, anyways, thanks to culture.)

I am one author. Not even published yet. But I know, quite deeply, that I will never consciously add a character in just for the sake of diversity. And, considering the fact I write epic YA fantasy, I have a feeling that most of my main characters will be diverse, and complex because of their diversity. I strongly believe that differences unite us all the more.

This one author here, will do her best to help diverse characters become real. I can only hope others will follow suit; and that maybe, just maybe -- in some distant future -- my words and worlds will help a change for the better for diversity,without making diversity seem like a cheap character trick that needs to tossed in due to social movements.

JDM -- daydreamer, fantasy writer, avid reader.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Letters to Life: On Female Characters

Dear SFF readers, writers, publishing peoples, and all-around decent folk --

I've recently been reading internet articles, as is my wont, on the representation of females in fiction.

Now, I'm a teenager who reads mostly YA. Don't kid yourselves, if you think this is an expert opinion. In fact, I hope you point out any flaws in my arguments in the comments section, or tell me what you think are the strong points. That is how people learn and grow.

But there is lots of talk about "strong female characters." (From my vantage point, which isn't exactly temporal. Namely, these articles could've been written anytime from last week to years ago.)

Now, why would I take part in such a discussion? Why should I? I am no expert, not even in logic or argument-making. In fact, I am the sort of person who doesn't even think logic rules the world -- I tend to think logic and argument are only one aspect of life, just as music and emotion and image and language are all just another part. And it's your choice to think which is more important. But I need to say something, and have a conversation about it, instead of letting it fester in my soul.

That being said, logic and argument do amount to something. It has weight behind it, like every other human force. And there is a certain logic that defines literature, just as there is emotion in music and structure in art and language in argument. Do you know what that logic is?

That there is no one personality type; there are as many types of people in fiction (and nonfiction) as there is in real life. And that means that yes, there are your typical Strong Female Characters in real life, and yes, there are some in literature. But that doesn't mean your definition should make up the majority.

It's the age-old trope that makes these female characters just that - a trope. You can bring them to life all you want, and people will complain that you're just submitting to a trope. That they are nothing but a stock character. (Remember that term from English class?) And I'm sick of seeing and reading it. But I want them in here, just the same.

Let's examine the typical traits of a Strong Female Character, shall we? Silent, strong, usually career-oriented and usually one of the few women in their field (and, of course, usually a military, scientific, or otherwise male-dominated field). Not weepy, or emotional, or terribly simple-minded. And of course, complex, internally-struggling, angry and happy and world-weary at the same time...

What was that? That last sentence doesn't ring true? Well, it should. Because that's my main point here: the "Strong Female Character" should be more than her typical definition. She should be as real-life as, well, real life.

I mean, what other type of female is there? Everyone is strong in their own way, pardoning my abrupt train of thought. (And jump in argument; bear with me, please.) What I mean is, what is the definition of weakness, when you think of a Strong Female Character? Emotional? Because everyone has emotion. Guys, especially, are prone to anger in fiction. That's an emotion, right? Anger? That hasn't suddenly morphed into a separate category, some extension of thought? Guys can be prone to theatrical heroism. Being melodramatic is a mix of thought and emotion, true, but it's how we exaggerate and how we show emotion. I mean, the typical guy trope -- the hero who has to save the world, and he does it his own way.

Emotion isn't a weakness. Guys, real life and in fiction, can have it. It's not a weakness, for them; in fact, it's usually portrayed in media as an abusive man controlling his wife or family; it's portrayed as the lust and "love" for the forces of good and for, again, their family. Batman is allowed to become a hero after his parents die, out of grief and a want for revenge. All of those crime shows, following childhood trauma to abusive present. (Or to a present of seeking out such dangerous relationships, but that's usually portrayed a "woman" thing.)

So why can't Strong Females have it? Emotions are not exclusively female or "weak." So... what else? Do you mean physical weakness? That's a characteristic of Strong Females and males alike. The whole "Look at me, I can shoot a gun, I can kick your sorry butt to kingdom come, I catch you doing something misogynistic and I will show you how manlike my reflexes are?" No one I know of can manage it, but in Sci-fi/fantasy, go ahead! (Really. No sarcasm. I come from a place where people have inane conversations and do chores, not kick butt.)

Um... do you mean the whole being-the-only-one-of-my-gender-in-this-field? Because... well, that doesn't look strong. Actually, that doesn't even reflect on the character in my opinion -- it just makes a whole system look weak. I mean, no one wants a field where both genders aren't at play. It takes two to make a family, and it takes two to make bombs. Ingenuity comes to both genders, and it's stupid to refuse an entire gender's ingenuity based solely on their gender. I'm all for subjectivity, but that's not a good subjectivity to go by. Go by something like, "They don't like biology, so they can't work in our medical facilities." That's a much more decent subjective measure than "Oh, she's a girl."

So... what is weak? What is the opposite, or indeed anything other than, this Strong Female Character? Which brings me back to my first point -- why are you making this a stock character/trope?

I would guess you mean "as opposed to the lack of other female characters in the novel, this one token girl is a Strong Person, because we don't have any others but vague mentions." I've heard of a few novels like that. I don't read many, thankfully. It's not really a good thing, this trope. There are plenty of strong characters who are not this mental image of military-and-rebellious.

Now, did I write this just to be whiny? No, I have an Easy Positive Solution.    

Perhaps we should take a leaf from my favorite age group's notebook: write many, many books from the POV of girls/women. Adult fiction, you heard me. And I don't mean, simple, flat characters written for the Sake of Diversity. (More on that particular rant some other day.) I mean, real-life characters. The sort of characters we always strive to write about, because no one likes flat, simple-minded "weak" characters. The same ones you seem intent to avoid with the trope in the first place.

In fact, here's an Easy Test to administer and pass -- the Bechdel Test. The questions are simple.
1. Are there at least two women in it?
2. Do they talk to each other?
3. Do they talk about something other than men?
Guys, this isn't a hard test to pass. It's not even asking to make them major or main characters, just that you include them. It does wonders for that audience you're actively pushing away. (Namely, me. Though people like me are included, as well.)

In YA, a lot of novels are published by women, for girls. Predominantly. And there's a reason I prefer that age group -- because, while I hate the romance, I can identify with strong characters who happen to be female. Because, they can't be anything but strong.

JDM -- a dreamer of impossibly diverse dreams, a thinker of more than logic, and a Girl Who Loves Strength (But Knows There's More than One Type)

P.S. This Lorde quote was originally intended for real-life racism. I kind of consider fictional people to be their own human race, only they inhabit a different world. But all the same, I don't mean this quote to look out-of-context and mean. Diversity, as I said, is a whole 'nother blog post, as is For the Sake of Diversity.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fantasy and the Hobbit

So, I've finished re-reading the Hobbit for a school summer project. (No, I'm not going to underline it. It's practically a common noun by now.)

And I must say, I rather enjoyed it this time around. I mean, it still took me a week to get through it, but... it wasn't detestable, once I started accepting the ending. I mean, he didn't have this epic showdown with the dragon, but in a roundabout way, he DID somewhat cause Smaug's death. Anyways, the writing, rest of the plot, and ploys used were nowhere near as bad the second reading through.

So I figured I would give you a list of my favorite fantasy tropes, as used in The Hobbit.

Favorite Things About Fantasy
  1. War! The Battle of Five Armies, people. (Even though, technically, it was more like six or seven armies, when you include the Eagles and Gandalf. Good old Tolkien.) There is no other genre where magic and magical creatures can turn everything into an unpredictable, completely befuddled mess.
  2. Magic! You just have to love Gandalf's fires that drive off the Wargs in that scene after getting away from the goblins. And the Ring -- no one could forget that. 
  3. Evil Forest! Because, ya know, the Mirkwood just isn't as cool if it's easy to get through.
  4. Shape-shifters! We once had a cat named Beorn, and I didn't get the reference until years later.
  5. Dragons and hoards of gold! I want to write a book about dragons one day. Not like Smaug-dragon, but a relatively good one. And also, hoard of gold.
  6. Evil goblins! Somehow, stories seem a lot better when goblins are evil. I don't know why. I mean: the Hobbit, Artemis Fowl... 
  7. Hobbits! How many people don't want to be a hobbit? Second breakfast, nice home under a hill, natural stealth, etc etc etc.
  8. Neolithic landscapes! Yea! For some reason, the whole unspoiled-by-indutrialization landscape is easy on me. (Is it neolithic, or medieval? The Hobbit, I mean? Because it has the monarchy... but only deep into LoTR. Mostly, it's a quiet hobbit neighborhood, a vast stretch of wilderness, and then one human town who bows to a King under the Mountain, who is not human.)

As well as plenty of other things, but we'll not make this a super-long post. What about you? What are your favorite fantasy tropes?

Have a blessed Monday (if there's such a thing)!     

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On Genres: Romance vs. Contemporary

Last Monday, I wrote on Fantasy and Paranormal.

Last Friday, I wrote on Sci-Fi and Dystopian.

Today, I want to write more on romance and general fiction.

Have you ever noticed how prominent romance is? (Yes, I've written about it before.) Yes, it's most definitely a genre, but it's also a subgenre... of almost every other genre. Fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary/general, historical... name it, you can add romance to it. I think because it doesn't require any specific setting or elements, other than the relationship itself.

Now, of course, this is where genre becomes subjective. Is it a romance with paranormal elements? Or a paranormal with romantic elements? It's really your decision, but what if it counteracts the author's opinion on the genre? Does that mean you are wrong?

One of the most beautiful things about books is that everyone takes something different from it. That's why I can detest Twilight, love Harry Potter, and change my mind about The Hobbit.

Which is what I want to talk about, really. Changing your mind.

Last summer, I picked up The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, and read both in about 2-3 weeks. And I detested it, especially the endings. (Frodo, how dare you leave Sam behind! He went to freakin' Mordor with you! Did you care about how he must be feeling, seeing you on the lip of Mt. Doom?!)

But now I have an English summer project, and I decided to re-read The Hobbit, because I'm suspicious of Dorian Gray. (It's an AP Lit class, so I have to choose a fiction book! Yay!) And now I'm thinking... you know, it's not as hard to read as I remember. The description is still a bit much, but it's still a good story, and the adventure is certainly attention-catching. In fact, instead of just worldbuilding epic fantasy, it's a true adventure-fantasy.
And so now, I'm kind of liking The Hobbit. Of course, I haven't gotten to the ending, which I detested most of all. But I can manage a project on it without screaming. And that, I hope, is because I've grown since the first time I've read it: I've read bad and good and mediocre books in the year.

My point: you've read good, bad, mediocre books yourself. And you probably have read different books than me -- sure, there'll be some overlap, but you haven't read the exact same books for an entire year. And even if you did, you'd get something different out of them than I, a teenage girl who leaves her house pretty much only for school and the library, gets out of them.

And that means your opinion on the genre of a certain book can be different, as well. And that your opinion of the genre (and how much you enjoy it!) can change over re-readings.

[NOTE: Romance is a very changeable, depending on the age group. And, of course, I'd hope that it only just barely exists in MG, in a fairy-tale fashion, since eleven-year-olds exploring love/sex is rather atrocious. But still, I'm trying not to bias these to any one age group, though since I read YA it's sort of biased towards that.]

[Also note: "contemporary" means the same as "general" or "realistic" in my eyes. This is mostly because I'm lazy, and if it's not historical, it's present-day/modern enough to classed as something like contemporary.]

def. -- set in the modern world (as in, after about the 1980s), and can be about a wide variety of "real-world" issues, such as eating disorders, anger/abuse problems, or mental health.
often seen -- conflicts with police/family/creditors; mental issues, like struggling with depression; settings in New York or London; today's technology, or even brand names like Coca Cola; etc.
common plots -- as mentioned, struggling against an internal problem or a financial problem. Often, romance involved and struggling with, as well.
Examples: Hate List by Jennifer Brown, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
(Note: these are all YA titles. I don't read much adult, and most of the MG I read is in the fantasy genre.)

Some Contemporary Sub Genres:
  • One of the most popular is contemporary romance, combining both of these.
  • Contemporary/Urban Fantasy, when magical elements are set here (such as Percy Jackson).
  • Contemporary Paranormal, when vampires are living in the seedy underworld of a city, for example. 

def. -- a story that revolves around the relationship between two people, which can be set anywhere or combined with many, many diverse elements.
often seen -- a "strong" or "kick-butt"* girl falling for a boy; a geek falling for a cheerleader, or poor falling for a rich, or any such combination; a boy falling for a girl.
common plots -- same as above; love triangles, too.
Examples: I try not to read much overt romance. But you can find romance pretty in any book you pick up, if not as the main plot then as an element.

Some Romance Sub Genres:
  • Contemporary romance, as mentioned above.
  • Paranormal romance, very popular in YA (apparently).
  • LGBTQ novels -- in which the MCs are gay, transgender, or the like. Surprisingly, I don't mind this little niche of romance as much as the rest of it. And, like romance, it can range wide into other genres -- see Eon by Alison Goodman, for example.

Yea, I recommend reading my rant on romance (third link up there, near the top of this post). Romance is kind of overwhelming, very popular, and ever prevalent, possibly because it does range over literally any other genre.

How about you? What do you think about genre and romance? Can you list any of your favorite contemporary or romance?

Have a blessed Wednesday!

*When I say "kick-butt", you know what I really mean, right? I'm incapable of even mild swearing, because I set myself to my own standards. And, of course, there's the whole "My protagonist is strong NOT" aspect, in which the character is really kind of flimsy. Which is a very, very common occurrence, especially to female protagonists.

Friday, August 9, 2013

On Genre: Dystopian vs. Sci-Fi

Monday, I wrote on what I feel is the exact difference between fantasy and paranormal.

Today, I want to go into more detail, and outline two more genres: dystopian and sci-fi.

Genre has always seemed like a strict rule, with clear boundaries: there is this, and there is that. But with more and more hybrid books and sub-genres out there, genre strikes me as less a strict rule and more an ambiguous identity, where the boundary between two genres is one thing to one person and something completely different to another.

What does that mean? What effect does that have on literature? You already see the influence: think of books labeled wrong. I once read a book I thought was strictly paranormal... until I realized it was romance, with paranormal elements. But the summary didn't mention any romance -- the central element -- at all! (needless to say, I was a bit ticked off.)

The beauty of it, though, is that you draw the line. Usually, I think the author's right, or the publisher or the bookstore/library, in deciding genre. It's a lot easier to walk through a library and let a book catch your eye when it's labelled with that purple unicorn that means fantasy, or the two hearts that mean romance. Because, well they've read the book.

And after YOU'VE read it, you can sort that book into what you think its genre is, in your little mental library.
(Did anyone else automatically think of Sherlock's "mind palace" when they read that? Ooh, a "mind library" where you store all the books you've ever read and sort them into the genres you think they are.)

[Anyways. Back to my genres -- as a disclaimer, I say again: this has little to nothing to do with AGE GROUPS. I realize there can be some elements or tropes different between YA and, say, MG, within the same genre. And I read mostly YA, so my opinions are decidedly biased toward YA, but I do think, overall, it applies to all age groups.]

def. -- type of fiction that often focuses on technology, with a sub-focus on society or worlds. A different world, but little to no magic or supernatural elements like in fantasy. A lot like dystopian, but less focused on the negative aspects and it's a lot older as a genre. 
often seen -- new types of weapons (light sabers, etc); new types of conveniences or luxuries; the kick-butt hero whose sides are dripping with weapons; future or otherworldly settings
common plots -- saving the world, high-action-y sort. (I admit, I don't read as much sci-fi. Sorry.)
Examples: Star Wars, War of the Worlds, (Doctor Who? It's a bit hazy, with the paranormal elements)

Some Science-Fiction Sub Genres:
  • Sci-fi/fantasy, where those two genres mix. (Decently common, especially in YA.)
  • Steampunk, where history and science fiction meet! (That sounded like an ad.)
  • Dystopian/sci-fi, where there's a balance in focus on government and technology. 
def. -- type of fiction that focuses on government and society, typically set in the future. Specifically, it focuses on the negatives or downsides of a certain government/society, with a sub-focus on the downsides of technology.
often seen -- war, death, brainwashing; set in the future of an already existing society (ex: America); struggling, world-weary, rebellious characters
common plots -- overthrowing a government; saving the world; struggling to remain a human in inhumane societal conditions.
Examples: The Hunger Games, numerous YA novels or novels from the 20th c. looking forward (ex: Animal  Farm/1984, two of Orwell's novels)

Some Dystopian Sub Genres:
  • Sci-fi/dystopian, because these two are pretty interwoven.
  • Dystopian fantasy, in which fantasy elements -- such as magic or otherworldly settings -- are included.
  • Dystopian romance, in which characters struggle to maintain a relationship in a strict or inhumane societal condition.  

These two genres, to me, are very interrelated and the boundary's even more ambiguous than others. I think the pulse here is that dystopian highlights the negative aspects of a way of being, while sci-fi will focus more on technology and futuristic society and is less... how do I say it... negative-oriented. Dystopian is a warning for the future; sci-fi is action that happens to be set in futuristic elements.

How about you? Where do you draw the line between these two? And what do you think on the boundaries between genres?

Have a blessed Friday!

Monday, August 5, 2013

On Genres: Fantasy vs. Paranormal

I think I have it somewhere in my archives (what a lovely word!), but I decided that I'll do an entire post on Genre Stuffs.

Because, you see, "genre" can be subjective. How often have I walked into B&N and seen evidence of this? Sci-fi and fantasy mixed together, paranormal and fantasy mixed together, historical and general mixed together.

The problem, really, comes in with the sub-genres. Paranormal romance; urban fantasy; historical romance. Remember, this is all my own conjecture, but I tend to think that it's deciding the "main" genre where things get subjective. Is this more historical, or more romance? Is it more fantasy, or more general fiction (or magical realism, even)?

Where do the genres and sub-genres collide? Is steampunk its own genre, or a mix of historical and sci-fi? Is paranormal romance a genre, or just accepted as one?

So, I decided to post my ideas of the (fictional) genres and sub-genres, based on what popular culture actually gets through my head. MY ideas of where those boundaries lie. Because, ya know, it's really important. To maek sure this post doesn't stretch to kingdom come, this will be the first of a series.

[REMINDER: I am not going to specify YA and Adult and MG into their own "genres", because they're not. They are age groups. Elements outside the characters -- say, typical settings or tropes -- can be the same in the same genre, even when they're part of different age groups.]

def. -- a type of fiction in which characters (minor or major) are non-human, and have never been human. Magic is typically prevalent.
often seen -- elves, dragons, wizards/warlocks/witches; kingdoms, monarchy; Wise Old Mentor characters and Epic Medieval-Type settings.
common plots -- destroying or finding a magical artifact; an Epic Journey; a need to overthrow somebody (usually the King).
Examples: Eragon, Lord of the Rings, Circle of Magic (Tamora Pierce)

Some Fantasy Sub-Genres: 
  • urban fantasy, where modern-world settings collide with some of the often seen.
  • fantasy romance, where romance features heavily, perhaps even being the main plot.
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy, where the book actually does blend elements of the two.  

def. -- a type of fiction in which characters (minor or major) are non-human, but were human at some point.
Otherworldly or superhuman powers typically prevalent, less often magic.
often seen -- ghosts, zombies, vampires; a city or "haunted" building setting; the Kick-But Hero/ine with a bad attitude.
common plots -- relationships between humans and non-humans; defeating/exorcising an Evil Non-Human Entity; surviving a war/attack between the two.
Examples: most ghost stories (local haunts), some myths (Hades and the Underworld); The Mortal Instruments (I believe; I've never read the series, so I couldn't say definitively).

Some Paranormal Sub-Genres:
  • Paranormal Romance, the biggest one nowadays; romance between a non-human (usually a vampire) and a human. (Typically a human girl and male vampire, thanks to Twilight.)
  • Paranormal Horror/Dystopian, which features conflict between the two; such as a zombie apocolypse.
  • Fantasy Paranormal, where the two genres mix: think the pain-removed soldiers in Galbatorix's army (I can't remember which Eragon book, all of a sudden. And sorry if that's a spoiler.)

Paranormal, I think, is where you see sub-genre the most. It gets mixed with romance very often -- especially in YA -- or you see elements of paranormal mixed into something like general fiction (I generally think Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children).

So, that is my definitions of these two. Next week -- or possibly this week, since I only now realize it's book-review Monday -- I'll discuss Science Fiction and Dystopian.

How about you? Do you have differing views of the boundary between these two? Know any more common plots or often-seen, or think of any more sub-genres? Let me know in the comments!

Have a blessed Monday!