Genre Confusion

I came across a tweet the other day from Sarah Lapolla (@sarahlapolla) of Bradford Literary Agency that read:

 “Reminder: Your manuscript can’t be both fantasy AND magical realism. The point of magical realism is that it’s *not* set in a fantasy world.”

This got me thinking about genre confusion. For the first few queries I sent out, I was touting my manuscript as a historical fantasy, but then I got to wondering…is it?

So I tweeted Sarah back: “so is that the difference? The setting? Mr/fantasy/para gets confusing. #askagent

Ms. Lapolla’s reply: “Basically. Fantasy = 100% made up. MR = real w/ subtle fantastic elements. Para/UF = real world, fictional creatures/abilities.”….. “MR & UF use elements of fantasy (or horror – e,g. “vampires”), but they are 3 separate genres.”

There were others that joined in on the conversation. Another tweeter (@jessicaleahurt) asked: “So is HP [Harry Potter] fantasy or mr? The story goes back and forth between the real world (England) and the wizarding world?”

Ms Lapolla’s reply: “HP is fantasy/”low fantasy”. It’s magical realism if Harry was just a kid who thought he was a wizard living in London.”

What I gather from this is…

Fantasy (low) includes or takes place in other/fictional worlds (Harry Potter).

Magical realism is real world with very minor magical elements (think, Odd Life of Timothy Green).

Paranormal is set in the real world with other creatures, abilities, i.e witches, vampires, fairies etc… (Twilight, Vampire Diaries).

So if I go by these guidelines then I am fairly certain my manuscript is more Paranormal than Fantasy, but it might still fit in the gray area in between.

The Book Industry Study Group has a list of genres that are helpful when trying to determine your book’s genre. The link button on my blog is not working at the moment, so you’ll have to copy and paste the address in your browser (

Have a look. Hope it helps.

Follow me on twitter @tamzwrite

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