Elucidating the Fantasy Genre

Dragons, heroes, supernatural powers, and swords. The fantasy genre is a visual of the impossible yet desirable. (Come on, who didn’t want one of the above.) If you’re a fantasy writer who just can’t place their book, then you came to the right place. I’m going to explain the different sub-genres of fantasy.

If you look at BISAC the fantasy genre is the below:

FIC009000 FICTION / Fantasy / General
FIC009040 FICTION / Fantasy / Collections & Anthologies
FIC009010 FICTION / Fantasy / Contemporary
FIC009070 FICTION / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy
FIC009020 FICTION / Fantasy / Epic
FIC009030 FICTION / Fantasy / Historical
FIC009080 FICTION / Fantasy / Humorous *
FIC009050 FICTION / Fantasy / Paranormal
FIC009060 FICTION / Fantasy / Urban

I’ll explain the genres from the bottom and moving up (Just like Science Fiction.)

This means it must be an urban setting or also known as the city. Most Urban Fantasy takes place in modern time, even in real life cities. However, this doesn’t mean it can be historical or futuristic. It doesn’t even have to be a real city. As long as your story revolves takes place in the city, then it can be urban. Examples: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan; Shifters by Rachel Vincent.

Ghosts, vampires, or telekinesis. If your story is about the paranormal, this is where you go. Most paranormals are romances, but that’s not always the case. However, many paranormal fantasies that aren’t romances are usually be placed under horror or science fiction.  Some examples are Twilight by Stephenie Meyer; Ghostbusters(movie); Supernatural(show).

Humor me. This is a fantasy story made to make you laugh. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. My favorite humorous fantasy movie is Monty Python and the Holy Grail also, kids love Shrek. Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is another good example.

Another setting based genre. If you’ve seen my explanation of Historical, you’ll know this means it takes place in the past. If you are writing fantasy in a historical setting, this is where you go.

Though it’s called Epic in BISAC, many know it as High Fantasy. This means entirely or mostly fictional. That’s a bit vague though. Really, the story has to take place in an entirely fictional secondary world. It must be consistent yet different. These stories are serious and commonly have elves, dragons, and dark magic.(Not necessary.) Example: The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (Controversial on how since Tolkien states it’s simply in the past and not secondary world. However, it is still an epic for high details, serious tone, and extreme difference to known past and our current world.);  Forgotten Realms by Ed Greenwood.

There are no strict rules for this one. It can be a mixture of fantasy and horror or have an extreme gloomy and sad atmosphere. You know what, I’ll just show you some pictures and if it captivates the same feelings as your book, then this can be your genre.

Examples: The Masque of the Red Death By Edgar Allan Poe; Diablo(Video Game); H.P. Lovecraft(author). 

AKA Modern. This is a fantasy story setting in modern day. Many novels are written in its subgenre urban. However, if your story isn’t taking place in a city but is in modern-day, then it’s Contemporary. Examples: C.S. Lewis(author).

Collections & Anthologies
This is where you put a collection of stories rather than one.

Finally, there is general. This is where you put your story when you know for a matter of a fact it’s fantasy, yet it just doesn’t fit in any sub-category. Every fantasy book can fit in here without any rules to stop them(other than being fantasy).

Remember this is just a guideline to help make the process easier on deciding what genre your book is.


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