Monday, September 20, 2010

Urban Fantasy Versus Paranormal Romance, Cont.

During my last post, I explored the differences between Urban Fantasy (UF) and Paranormal Romance (PR) as these two genres are often mistaken to be one in the same. While researching this topic, I thought of the people I know who like to read from both genres and decided to get their opinion with two purposes in mind: 1) What is it about these genres that appeals to them and 2) What suggestions would they like to share with the writers?

I interviewed two friends, one teenager and one adult. Both are avid readers and have experience with UF and PR. Although I provided them with structured questions, each provided additional information that could be helpful not only to any reader new to these genres, but to the writers themselves.

1) Do you prefer urban fantasy or paranormal romance over the other? If so, what makes you more drawn to the genre of your choice?
Adult: Distinguishing the difference between paranormal romance and urban fantasy was a little difficult for me, being that an urban fantasy book could also be considered a paranormal romance. However, to answer this question I am drawn more toward the urban fantasy genre than the paranormal romance. The reason is that I consider a paranormal romance to focus strongly on the romantic aspects of the story. Although the romance involvement of any story is almost a must for me, I prefer focus on other elements as well.
Teen: I really like them both. There are things I like about the Twilight Saga (by Stephanie Meyer) and things I like about the Mortal Instruments series (by Cassandra Clare), and then I like the similarities. I like the fact that both are not just about "normal" people, but pull in different creatures to mix in "normal". I like the romance of Twilight with a hint of action. With the Mortal Instruments, I loved how the author pulled in all types of mythical creatures and created for each one a unique world.

2) What about your favorite genre draws you in (or both if you don't have a favorite) as opposed to say, general fiction stories?
Adult: I enjoy a good book that has plenty of action, twists and turns throughout the plot, sex, and romance. On the flip side of the coin, if a read in either genre has too much detail of a scene I will put the book down. There are many authors that write in this genre, or any genre for that matter, that put so much detail to set up a scene that it becomes boring to me. Although, there has to be enough detail included to set up the scene, it is not necessary to go overboard and I see this mistake often. When I read a book and find myself holding my breath waiting to see how the scene is going to end just to find out that I am clenching my teeth in the next scene, then I know it is a great book. However, when I finish a book or series that is truly intense, it is nice to relax with a slower paced more romantic book with a little less thrill.
Teen: I like that they are NOT normal. When I read, I want to be somewhere NOT in the norm. I like to picture mythical places and creatures in my mind.

3) What do you relate to the most in these stories?
Adult: It may be sad to say, but I do not relate too much in any of the stories. Some of the characters have traits that I would like to possess; but my purpose in reading them is to escape my own reality.
Teen: In the series that I have read, both of the main characters are teenage girls that are, in a way, finding out who they are and what they are supposed to be in their world. I don't have to fight demons, or run from vampires, but I do have to face challenges in my life, and hopefully, like the heroines in the books, when I overcome them, I will have a better understanding of who I am in this word.

4) Do you prefer stories where there are many creatures, or just a few?
Adult: In a series, I prefer to have many creatures because there is time to build characters and explain the paranormal aspects of each creature. However, it seems that in a single issue book it would be better to limit the number of characters and creatures. In past experience, I found that too many types of creatures in a single issue book become clutter with explanations and the plot thins.
Teen: I like the Shadow Hunters (from the Mortal Instrument series) best. To me, they are the perfect mix of human and mythical! They are able to have all human experiences, but with a greater sense of awareness of what is going on around them.

5) Are there any stories that you would like to see written, but haven’t come across yet, or some that you would like to see more of? If so, why?
Adult: There have been so many types of paranormal creatures that I have read about that it is difficult to determine what I have missed or what I would like to see more of. I have read of vampires, witches, succubus, faeries, weres, demons, angels, and zombies; I am not sure what is left. I have enjoyed the police investigative approach in some of the urban fantasy along with a more political approach in the same genre. One thing I would like to see more of in the genre is equality with the male and female (or female and female) characters. Many tend to create a strong male character, however the male character doesn’t ever really do anything fantastic and often the heroine is saving the so called “strong” male character. I would prefer to see the two to save each other and work closely together as they work through the complications set out before them.
Teen: I don't have any original ideas, but both of my series could use MORE books!

Thank you, J. and M. for your well thought out answers! For my writer friends of these two genres, I hope you found this interesting, and maybe even helpful. I know there is some rumor that these types of stories could just be a modern fad; however, their level of popularity does not seem to be waning in the least. There is still a wide audience, both new and seasoned, waiting to snatch up your stories!


Jessica said...

These posts really help to clear things up between the two sub-genres. Thanks for writing them.

Algrea said...

Thanks, Jessica! Also, thank you for referring to UF and PR as "sub-genres", that is a true characterization (being that PR belongs to the Romance genre and UF to the Fantasy genre).

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