Thursday, May 10, 2012

Genre Identified #5: Dark Fantasy

From the 2009 Guide To Literary Agents: "Dark Fantasy (are) tales that focus on the nightmarish underbelly of magic, venturing into the violence of horror novels."

Dark fantasy isn't confined to modern times. It can take place in the here and now, in another world, or in the past. Based on the definition above, there are still valid questions regarding whether a particular manuscript falls under the Dark Fantasy classification or another. What about paranormal romance? Or a horror story involving magic?

Compare a vampire tale that is mostly love-story, versus one that dives into the violence and dark magical rules as the main staples for the story. Or a horror story with elements of magic realism versus a postively magical tale that walks on the dark side and characters come by horrible ends. There is a difference. What a writer needs to do is analyze their story and decide what the ruling factors are. The horrific violence plus the dark magic would qualify it for a Dark Fantasy label. If those aren't the main points, then you can safely label your story in another subgenre.

For further reference, may I suggest:
Dark Fantasy: sub-genre or marketing ploy? from the Speculative Book Review blog.
Writing: What is Dark Fantasy? from the blog of Colleen Anderson
What is Dark Fantasy as a genre? from the blog of Colin F. Barnes: Author
Goodreads Dark Fantasy book list

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting, especially in that last article, that there seems to be this consensus that Dark Fantasy is ruled by female writers (go us!) But on the same hand that it's mostly UF with romantic undertones, which I can't say I totally disagree with. It just makes me wonder what sort of leg, if any, does a DF that isn't Urban or have strong romantic overtones stand on?

    I also hate to think my genre is some sort of bastard child off-shoot from the Twilight series in an attempt to please those readers in need of a new fix. It kills me how they acknowledge H.P. Lovecraft but then degrade the genre as a whole to being some marketing ploy or by claiming its existence is largely due to Twilight or similar books. I think its popularity and the increase in awareness of the genre can definitely be traced back to those novels, but I don't think they were the patient zeros of the genre. Just my two and a half cents :)