Fantasy is about make-believe. It’s about building worlds that are not based on reality. Many times, it involves magic, mythical beings, and the supernatural as elements of plot, theme, setting. Fantasy is one of the oldest genres and includes fairy tales and mythology. Unless written for children or young adults, fantasy is usually longer than most genres averaging between 80,000 and 150,000 words.
Fantasy could be considered a subgenre of speculative fiction is, many times, classified with Science Fiction. Although fantasy is always speculative, it doesn’t always involve science fiction elements. Some fantasy novels could also be considered Science Fiction, but most aren’t.
Sub-Categories of Fantasy:
Fairy Tales and Mythology: These are set in mythical lands with strange creatures. Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm’s Fairy Tales are two examples.
Epic Fantasy: A young person is thrown unexpectedly into a massive “Good vs. Evil” struggle, where he must become a hero to save the day. Often also includes a “grail-finding” quest – regardless of whether the ‘grail’ is an icon, a person, a magical talisman or any other form of symbolic token. It usually involves a very large cast of characters and spans a vast area of a fantastical world. These novels are usually on the longer side of the word count. J.R.R. Tolkien is the creator of this sub-genre with the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. “The “Chronicles of Narnia” series by CS Lewis is another example.
Heroic: This sub-genre is closely related to the epic fantasy and involves fantasy world with a middle-ages feel to it. The difference between this and the epic fantasy is heroes in heroic fantasy are not the young everyday characters. They are the typical muscle-bound sword-wielding heroes determined to rescue a true damsel in distress. Magic is an accepted part of life in this sub-genre.
Modern Fantasy: These are tales of magic and wonder set in modern times. These stories don’t have a portal or alternative universe but have the magic hidden in our modern world.
Urban: This is modern fantasy with a paranormal or supernatural element.
Wuxia: Wuxia is Chinese fantasy involving Martial Arts and is similar to the American Western where the lone hero saves the day.
Historic: Any fantasy set in historical times.
Romantic: This involves any fantasy story that surrounds a romantic relationship between too people.
Superhero: The heroes in these stories have super powers. Many times, comic books are in this genre.
Arthurian: These fantasy have a King Arthur setting.
Dark Fantasy: This sub-genre combines elements of fantasy with horror.