While sticking like glue to a subgenre’s parameters and expectations may boost sales by catering to readers’ expectations, it also results in formulaic writing.
Fantasy seems particularly afflicted with paint-by-the-numbers novels, some procreating themselves into lengthy series. This is OK as long as it leaves oxygen in the room for authors attempting something more ambitious, say combining elements of several subgenres into a cool synthesis of plot-lines, characters, and themes – agnostic of their subgenre of origin. Or tossing all the standard categories into the garbage and writing a sui generis work. It’s your fantasy after all!
For example, suppose your modern fantasy contains a smidgen of romance – a kiss or two, possibly a French kiss? At what point does it become paranormal? Both of my novels interweave romance with drama, action and magic, but romance isn’t absolutely the story’s central feature, so I wouldn’t consider either novel to be paranormal ( judge for yourself: https://amzn.to/2DohgJHhttps://amzn.to/2DoDAmJ ).
And what happens when you’re bold (or pretentious) and address themes? Does that push your work into the realm of literary fantasy? I used environmental motifs in my first novel and explored the nature of borders geographic and attitudinal in my second book, but both books can be read as purely exciting stories, I hope.
And does a propulsive plot bully your novel’s fantasy elements aside and nudge your work into the action & adventure category?
Complications like these highlight why some writers don’t stray far from one particular category, especially if they’ve achieved success in that space. For those that do blend elements of multiple genres and subgenres, recognize that making what you’ve written appealing to potential readers and minimizing their uncertainty about just what they’re buying may be more challenging than for a straight-up, single-genre work.
The concluding part in this series touches on how to address this (see Part 5).
(The wonderful image is by Stefan Keller from Pixabay)
I write modern fantasy novels that are hopefully both exciting and literate. These novels include an on-going series about a near-immortal magician who grew up in Camelot and grew famous in San Francisco's 'Summer of Love'. He's still having adventures to this day described in The Lords of the Summer Season, The Lords of Powder, and The Lords of Oblivion. The books can be read in any order.
As author S Alessandro Martinez has stated about the series:
"Lords of Oblivion
A 1500-year-old wizard. A pair of savage druids raised from the dead. Modern day San Francisco. A wolf that takes no gruff. Blaisdell creates a fascinating world in this magical realism novel with smart writing, complex characters, and clever use of history and mythology. I was sucked in from the very beginning. I look forward to more of Bradan and Tintagel's mystical adventures.
Lords of Powder
Merlin's former apprentice, Bradan, is back! The 1500-year-old wizard, who is sometimes too smart for his own good, returns for another exciting adventure, this time in 70s Miami as he takes on the criminal world of drug trafficking. Blaisdell's smart, fast-paced writing and use of fascinating history and mythology keeps you on the edge of your seat as Bradan uses his wits, charm, and illusions to navigate the modern era and get himself into plenty of trouble.
Lords of the Summer Season
Being Merlin's former apprentice and living for 1500 years is bound to make you a few enemies. Travel back to the 60s with Bradan the wizard and his otherworldly wolf Tintagel. As Bradan juggles careers as a professor and musician, he must defend himself from his greatest threat yet: a literal god. Blaisdell continues with his clever, skillful, and imaginative writing that will keep readers eagerly turning the next page. My favorite of the Bradan books, Blaisdell dives deeper into the Arthur mythology, and brings the reader even more elements of magic and folklore, all the while weaving an entertaining tale of gods, wizards, ghosts, and 60s acid rock. Thoroughly enjoyable!"
Besides the literary side of my life, my background includes membership on a scientific advisory board for a non-profit professional organization promoting the biomedical and digital health business community in the greater Los Angeles area.
I’ve authored both basic research publications and business management articles focusing on the bio/pharma industry. My Ph.D. is in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota where I also conducted post-doctoral research in microbiology. And my BS is from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) with a double major in chemistry and cell biology.
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