Saturday, April 21, 2012

S: Subgenres of Fantasy

S:  If you query an agent or editor, you need to be able to label your novel or story.  Sometimes the line is blurred or it's difficult to put your writing into a specific category. There are about six general divisions among the types of fantasy.

Epic Fantasy:  Epic means a long story, usually with a band of heroes who fight to save the world.  Most often the world is a medieval setting with magic intertwined in the story.

High Fantasy:  High if very similar to epic in the setting and often it is also very long.  The difference is that the focus is more personal with one hero battling one villain. 

Sword and Sorcery:  S&S is sometimes thought of as being 'guy' fantasy.  There's lots of blood and fighting.  Sword battles, man against man, man against demons.

Dark Fantasy: Dark fantasy is not horror.  That's a totally different genre.  In dark fantasy, the main character is often an anti-hero, a person who is not totally good though he often does good deeds for his own reasons.  Often this type of story takes place in a world where evil has won and the law is survival of the fittest.

Historical Fantasy: Historical intermixes magic with historical events.  Think something like Hellboy where they intertwined his story with that of the Nazis. Alternate history novels are often this type of fantasy.

Contemporary Fantasy: Contemporary means present day fantasy.  In these novels, we share our world with magic and fantastical creatures.  There are lots of examples of this, including all those vampire and werewolf stories that have popular today.  Angels, magic doors to alternate kingdoms and other popular fantasy plots fill the shelves of book stores.

Can you fit your work into an exact category? Do you like a particular type of fiction or do you like them all?


  1. trekking your blog!!! thanks for sharing! never thought fantasy has many categories.


  2. I like most genres. Terry Brooks is an excellent fantasy writers.

  3. i don't know if my writing is in a certain category or not--and i fro certain do not have a category i read--great information in your blog--i will probably come back to retrieve this great stuff!

  4. Oh, I'm epic fantasy all the time. I thought, for a while I was writing more sword and sorcery stuff, but it's epic fantasy.

    I'll read any type of fiction.

  5. I don't write fantasy (not yet), but I love reading it. The other subcategories don't appeal to me.

  6. If it's written well, I'll enjoy reading all of them. Though I've only come across a few Dark Fantasy novels.

    The Golden Eagle
    The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

  7. I enjoy reading fantasy, although I still don't think of werewolves and vampires as anything but horror.

  8. Interesting! I'm not a fantasy writer, but I always wondered what the difference is between some of those sub-genres.

  9. This is interesting. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers just opened up a list of sub-genres for YA novels in their annual contest for unpublished authors. It seems you really do need to be specific these days.


  10. Wow, I just learned something!!!

    Thanks, Susan!!