Monday, October 15, 2012

Topical Gray Areas of Fantasy

In addition to the personal limitations already listed, often readers have questions concerning specific content issues of a genre. So here are some of the most common areas with how frequently these elements occur in fantasy:

Language: Low 
Because of the alternate reality of fantasy, our world’s swearing, cussing, and other offensive language doesn’t fit in. So unless the story involves characters from our world, the language issues are limited, often being in a foreign style or different language if they exist at all.

Violence: High
Warfare and hand-to-hand combat dominate the fantasy landscape. Evil often manifest itself in very physical ways. As a result, violence is interwoven with this genre so that death is not an uncommon topic or blood an unusual sight.

Sexuality: Moderately Low
Love stories in fantasy tend to be a subplot which add dimension to the story but are of secondary importance. Therefore, sexuality is often limited to some kissing, hand-holding, emotional attraction, and in the edgier secular works, a couple skippable sex scenes. (Exception: romantic subgenres like paranormal romance.)

Magic/Supernatural: High
Fantasy specializes in the supernatural. This can take many forms, from objects with unexplained powers to full races capable of superhuman feats. However, it wouldn’t be true fantasy if it didn’t at least touch the realms beyond the natural.

False Religions & the Occult: Moderate to Moderately High
Due to fantasy’s reliance on the supernatural, it also relies heavily on religion to explain those supernatural elements. So even in Christian fiction, false religions show up in coordination with evil while secular fiction often pulls from mythology, mysticism, and the Occult for their explanations.


Ruth said...

I've found a lot of romance in fantasy. I've actually read a few books where a good fantasy story was ruined by too much intimate romance (Graceling, WinterMaejic). Yuck. It's too bad.

By the way, I really like your series of posts on fantasy! Especially since it's pretty much my favorite genre.

Chawna Schroeder said...

Ruth~ I didn't mean to imply there wasn't romance in fantasy. A romance thread is almost required in any fantasy novel for teens and up these days.

However, the romance usually is not the dominate plot, and so the sexual elements tend to be low. Even in Graceling, which has a higher amount, I think the actual sex scenes were limited to three scenes (which you could basically skip without harming the plot) and several side references. And yes, this was an instance where it was too bad. Graceling had a lot going for it.

Anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying the posts.