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Are there lines that can be drawn within the fantasy genre?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by ProfessorTane, Nov 3, 2020.

  1. ProfessorTane

    ProfessorTane Acolyte

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    Hi

    When looking at fantasy, is there a differentiation between works of literature that have fantasy elements versus a deeply rooted fantasy genre novel.

    I am a relative newbie to the genre, in the sense that I have read some that are widely popular, - Tolkien, Pratchett, Rowling, Pullman but I am about to deep dive and wanted to understand it better from a knowledgeable community.

    Are there certain criteria that might meet the expectations of a fantasy novel. It seems an obvious question but I would see a book like Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights as on the fence vs Tolkien’s being deeply rooted in so many elements of what is deemed a fantasy novel.

    The books have creatures/figures associated with fantasy but one has taken a lot from folklore, ancient myths whilst the other has taken quite a lot from modern religion and with very little references to magical creatures used in fantasy other than witches.

    Is there any set parameters/expectations e.g. hardly any of X and X really does not constitute fantasy. If it moves away too far from some of the key elements of fantasy it is not technically considered to enter that genre anymore or are there divisions within that can be properly set apart from one another.
     
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  2. ladyander

    ladyander Dreamer

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  3. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Within the over-genre of speculative fiction the lines between fantasy, science fiction, and horror can get pretty fuzzy. For example, my writing team writes urban fantasy, which is fantasy in real-world settings. Think Supernatural or Lucifer or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all urban fantasies. Urban fantasy bumps close to a sub-genre of literary fiction called magical-realism, in which magical elements are at play in the real world with little to no explanation or reason, and often aren't a main feature of the plot.

    The basic parameters for fantasy, what little parameters it has, are simple. There are fantastical elements (doesn't have to be magic) and the book can't stand on its own without them. If there are no fantastical elements you've gone too far afield for fantasy and are either somewhere else in speculative fiction (Star Wars is Science Fantasy while Star Trek is Science Fiction, but both are considered Space Opera where the science is handwaved as opposed to Hard Sci Fi where the science is practically a main character.) or you've left the country entirely.

    Welcome to Scribes!
     
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  4. ProfessorTane

    ProfessorTane Acolyte

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    Thank you A.E Lowan!
     
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  5. ProfessorTane

    ProfessorTane Acolyte

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    Is it best to decide a genre than mould yourself somewhat into the parameters so as not to go too far off into the realm the unknown.

    e.g. if you choose to go down the road of epic fantasy but only two of the characters possess any form of powers, the world is not full of wizards and witches but oracles exist and so do a small number creatures mentioned in mythology. Is it better to add a few extra elements to better fit a sub-genre if it is quite sparse in that department.

    Symbolism is important but mostly based around how cultures around the world interpret them.

    I just worry there are some accepted rules about not going off too rogue!
     
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  6. Lynea

    Lynea Sage

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    If you're trying to be competitive with a novel, then you probably should set some parameters to work in. But my personal opinion is that you owe it to yourself to experiment with your own ideas and not worry about what other authors have created.

    Fantasy isn't typically cut-and-dry, there is a wide spectrum of high and low. Tolkien is a good example of high fantasy, where it takes place in a fictional world with its own cultures, races, and languages. I've never read Pratchett but I'm assuming it's low fantasy that takes place on Earth with a few magical elements thrown in. So, decide whether you want to create your own world or stay on Earth with the 'urban' setting and then go from there.
     
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  7. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

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    If your concern is picking a sub-sub-sub genre on Amazon that fits you best (like historical grimdark romance fantasy), then you're getting too into the weeds. Let your publisher figure that out. When you go to your local book store, there is the "fantasy" section, and anything more specific than that can be pretty subjective; one person's grimdark might be another's normal.

    From Wikipedia: "Fantasy is distinguished from the genres of science fiction and horror by the respective absence of scientific or macabre themes, though these genres overlap. In popular culture, the fantasy genre predominantly features settings of a medieval nature. In its broadest sense, however, fantasy consists of works by many writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians from ancient myths and legends to many recent and popular works."

    So things with dragons, with magic, with people swinging around swords and mythical creatures and noble warriors and all that are fantasy. Think about the myths and legends from your ancestors, what were those themes? What makes them feel the way they do?
     
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  8. Toby Johnson

    Toby Johnson Minstrel

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    yes i do think so, if you start descibing things but referring ti thewm as real life things. like: his nose was like corn flakes.
     
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