Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Here Be Dragons

You'd think you were looking into a volcano full of fire and brimstone, but that is actually one of the three local open cut coal mines on Monday night. This one in particular fell in the path of the local fires when preventative measures were not taken. Not so sure how they're planning to put that out, but they better think fast! 

Seeing this pictures made me think of dragons, and dragons made me think of a conversation I was having with my boyfriend regarding genres. 

Basically, my boyfriend thinks that naming one of the genres 'fantasy' is silly, because one of the definitions is simply 'to imagine the occurrence of', and isn't that what ALL books that aren't non-fiction are? Of course, I had my disagreement and specified that the genre is named for the other meaning of imagining the impossible or improbable. 

Well, I heard him out, and he asked me what sort of things make something 'fantasy'. My initial response was an alternative world with mythical creatures like fairies and unicorns and dragons. Then he pointed out that not all books with alternative worlds are considered fantasy, and that not all books with mythical creatures are considered fantasy either. Like I don't consider my own manuscript WALLS a fantasy, although it's in an alternative world, and the Hunger Games is considered Young Adult/Dystopia (and that has mockingjays and mutts, so they count as mythical creatures). Then he asked if I consider creatures like vampires and witches and werewolves fantasy, and I realised that no, I class them as supernatural. Then he asked me what genre I put the Harry Potter series in, and I said fantasy. When I said that, I stopped for a moment and frowned at myself, because Harry Potter has witches and wizards and vampires and werewolves, which I class as supernatural, but I consider those books fantasy. 

In the end, I decided that it was down to themes: what the emphasis is on and what kind of emphasis is put on it. Supernatural is dark and scary and you want it to go away (we discussed where the line between supernatural and horror was, but I won't go into that now because I don't want to creep myself out again). Fantasy is meant to leave you in awe of the world you've been presented with. 

We came to the conclusion that we need to make some sort of graph to decide where books fall along the line of fantasy, and that fantasy needs to be renamed 'Here Be Dragons'. Of course, I reminded him that his favourite fantasy book(s), The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, very deliberately doesn't have dragons. And no, the draccus does not count! 

So what are you thought on genres and where do you draw the line between ones that are similar? 

- Bonnee. 


  1. I wrote a paper on fantasy, the genre. I decided that there are about ten different subgenres of fantasy, plus some crossover subgenres like space opera.

    1. I think the same could be said about most genres, it's just that fantasy is so interesting and out there that maybe it's a little more open ended than most other genres. Thanks for visiting :)

  2. That's one heck of a fire--how do you put something like that out? Yikes.

    Interesting questions. I agree with you, in that it's the themes and focus of the book that ultimately determine genre. The Hunger Games to me is dystopia because it focuses so much attention on the society that exists surrounding the games (and I'd consider mutts and mockinjays not to be mythical creatures; to me, mythical creatures refer to mythical from THIS world). And then if you look at something like Never Let Me Go, the world it takes place in is...alternate universe? Post-apocalyptic? It's hard to say for sure what it is, but the focus is so much on the relationships between the characters that you wouldn't call it sci-fi, or fantasy, or post-apoc.

    As for the line, it's drawn on a sand dune. In a very windy place.

    1. Lol, I like the way you think about that line. I think I would have to agree with you.

      No idea how they're going to put that thing out... I guess we'll see.

      Thanks for visiting :)

  3. Your boy friend is trying to use the word "fantasy" as it describes the genre in the way that speculative fiction is used. Fantasy is part of spec fic, as is sci-fi, horror, supernatural, paranormal, and a ton of other stuff. Fantasy, as a genre, as particular themes and settings which is why Harry Potter IS fantasy and Hunger Games is not. (Hunger Games is futuristic/post apocalyptic, not fantasy.) With my own books, although Shadow Spinner has some fantastic elements, it is really not fantasy, but The House on the Corner, although contemporary, is fantasy.

    1. Yeah, I think it definitely comes down to the certain combination of settings and themes. Just because something has elements of something fantasy, doesn't mean it is fantasy. Thanks for visiting, Andrew :)

  4. I guess many novels can be into more than one category. In my second novel, the heroine finds magical glasses so I was told to change my category from YA fiction into YA fiction with magical realism .. so I did. From what you described so far, WALLS is Dystopian YA fiction. It's great that your boyfriend is also into books. Does he write as well? Hoping for the fire to calm down quickly.

    1. There are definitely books that reach across categories. I think YA especially can branch to different categories, because YA is only an age group, it doesn't say whether or not there's magic or tragedy or mystery or anything like that, so unless the book is purely about being a young adult (which plenty of them are, and I wrote KATHERINE to be one) then it probably branches into other categories too.

      He is a good writer from what little I've read, but he doesn't go out of his way to write.

      Thanks for visiting.


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