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! 

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