Friday, May 11, 2012

contemporary fantasy?

So I've been seeing this genre quite a few times in contests for agents.  But I'm not sure if the writers just made it up or if it's a real thing.  I mean, what is it?
I'm intrigued by this because this is how I want to describe COTF, which starts off in the present world and time and then goes to a fantastical world.  That world isn't a traditional fantasy world.  I wouldn't call it "Epic Fantasy" at all.  That's why I like contemporary fantasy, because I think it fits well.  But I'm still hesitant to use it.

I don't want to mislabel my work, because [unfortunately] labels are so important.  It should be about the story but a lot of times it's about the genre as well.  Is it marketable?  Is there a place for it on the shelf?  Plus that whole thing about New Adult not being a genre... yet.

But is COTF actually fantasy?  And is TDOC actually SF?  I'm not really sure.  It's kind of like a watered down version [that sounds awful, but it's true] of both.  I want to be able to straddle both worlds, the familiar and the fantastic.  When someone reads it, I think they'll get it, but what do I categorize it as in a query letter?  And that part is VERY important.  

Agents only rep some genres.  A lot of YA agents do rep fantasy and SF, but there are a lot who don't.  And I feel like SF and f are the first things to go from an agent's list, so I want to make sure if I label it that, that it's labeled correctly and I'm not doing myself a disservice.


  1. Hmm...I like the way contemporary fantasy sounds. I'm having a hard time putting my WIP into a genre too. I thought it was paranormal romance for a while, now I'm thinking it's actually magical realism, but I'm not sure if that's considered an actual "genre" either. Ugh.

    1. Lately, I have seen agents talking about wanting a good magical realism! And from what you've told me about your WiP, I am kind of inclined to say it's magical realism, though I think it's a hard genre to define. I've heard people say Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall is magical realism (which you should totes read if you haven't b/c it's so good!)

    2. Yess I've read Before I Fall! That's a really, really hard book to define. I feel like it could be magical realism but also kind of...not. It seems more contemporary than anything, with one glaring paranormal element. Anyway, I hope agents still want magical realism by the time this WIP is done! From what I've read about COTF, it does sound like contemporary fantasy would describe it. I know what you mean about not wanting to mislabel, though :-/ But if you didn't call it contemporary fantasy, would you just call it fantasy?