Friday, January 30, 2009

1 down 11 to go

Okay, I know that today is not the last day of the month, but I am not writing tomorrow. I just can't believe it got here so quickly. With so much left to do this year and the calendar not caring at all what I have to do and how much time it takes to do it, it gets to be frustrating. I can see why time travel stories are so popular.

I was just wondering, thinking about what is the line between 'horror' and 'dark fantasy.' Is there a line or is it just something we come up with to differentiate us between other writers? I find some stuff I write to be dark but not necessarily terrifying. I find other stuff I write to be fantastic but not that dark. I find some stuff I write to be more true to life but dark and it is considered literary and not genre at all.

I am so confused.

Have a happy Friday and a great weekend.


Aaron Polson said...

As far as I can tell, the term "Dark Fantasy" was invented in the 80s as a way to sell "Horror" to the masses. I think horror had become too schlocky, bloody, and ridiculous.

Personally, I think there is a huge distinction in today's market. Horror is pure terror with or without supernatural elements; dark fantasy is "discomforting" and supernatural elements are required.

Just my thoughts.

Jamie Eyberg said...

I guess I haven't read a lot of 'horror' then. I have been reading more 'Dark Fantasy' and would actually classify most of Blackwood's as such according to that definition. (Although a lot of Bloch's short fiction would definitely be horror, maybe even terror)

Cate Gardner said...

I only wish I knew.

I'm supposed to be working on a short that is Dark Sci-Fi, but it's beginning to feel more Horror with a smidgeon of sci-fi.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

Lord of the Rings, except Sauron wins?

Not really sure.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Cate- I wouldn't know where to start on that one.

Jeremy- you are lucky I didn't have a mouthful of coffee. It would have been all over the keyboard. (My own theory involved a hobbit gone bad, very bad)

Rob Brooks said...

I think most of my writing falls in the Dark Fantasy category. Very little of what I write is scary or intended to be. Mostly I use fantastic elements in a dark way. I have a hard time using the term fantasy, though, because to me, fantasy always conjures up images of elves and dwarves and wizards. I'm trying to get past that. I've actually been giving this a lot of thought lately, as well. Not that it really matters in the long run.

K.C. Shaw said...

January absolutely flew by. I don't even think I had a chance to blink.

My immediate reaction to horror vs. dark fantasy is that horror sets out to scare/discomfit the reader, while dark fantasy might or might not be scary, but it will be grim. But I don't read a lot of either, so that's an outsider's opinion. Also, dark fantasy is more likely to have elves. Mean elves.

Fox Lee said...

All I know is that this is why I have to read submission guidelines carefully. SInce the definitions aren't hard and fast, everyone has their own take on what the niche genres mean.

BT said...

Aaaron is correct in why it was coined in the first place. *0's slasher films billed as horror gave the genre a very bad name. Since that time, people have called horror all sorts of things to keep it alive.

I begin with an over-arching genre umbrella of dark fiction. If it instills a sense of fear/disquiet or other equalling disturbing emotions in a reader, then thats where it belongs.

This then gets divided again into all the sub-genres of which horror is one I include but publishers and book shops don't.

It depends on the story. If the main theme behind it, and the setting it's in, are mainly to cause those feelings of disquiet, then it belongs inside a sub-genre of dark fiction. Classic horror (pre-80's) tends to involve the supernatural and/or the psychological.

If I can catergorise it as dark fiction, and I believe that it fits the market (Nat is very right in her practice of reading the fine print in guidelines), then I don't worry about trying to break down where it sits any further. Dark fiction is good enough for me.

Cate - Does the story depend on the sci-fi element? If the same things could happen in a non-scifi setting, then it's not sci-fi, it's dark fiction.

E.g. if the story involves something horrible happening due to teleportation from one planet to another, resulting in lost abilities but new telepathic talents, only people die whenever the new talent is used - it's sci-fi. If the talent manifests itself during a FTL flight to Saturn and every time it's used people die, then it's not sci-fi because the same thing could happen if the person took a ship to sail from Australia to Europe, gain the talent and bingo we have the same premise and the same horrible results. Just because it's set on a spaceship insrtead of a sailing ship, doesn't make it sci-fi.

Does any of that make sense?

Jamie - email me on - thats the account I use openly. Once I get your email address, I'll send you my home address. Leave a comment on the blog when you've emailed - otherwise I'm likely to forget to check it - too many email addresses :c(