My personal definition of Urban Fantasy goes like this: An Urban Fantasy is a story set in a world that has changed or is different from the real one in some fantastical way. Usually, there are paranormal elements and correlations between our present and their future. The genre I write in is Urban Fantasy along with Paranormal Romance, but I’m a firm believer in world building, so any PR (Paranormal Romance) could be an Urban Fantasy and vice versa. Genres don’t irritate me really, but there are days when I’m kind of like, what? Why do I have to label my work one thing or another? A good book/story should have every entertaining element out there.
- World Building
I understand authors don’t always delve into the paranormal which is fine, but my opinion on this is clear. In order to be Urban Fantasy you need some sort of supernatural or paranormal elements. You’re not going to find a Western Romance in the Urban Fantasy section. Why? Because last I checked that horse the hero is always riding doesn’t shoot flames out of its nostrils or sprout wings and fly over split rail fences.
Does that mean Western Romances aren’t good? No. It’s just not Urban Fantasy. However, that doesn’t mean someone writing a Western Romance should discard plot developments that might land their book in another section of the library. I believe genres are important to a degree, but story tellers beware. Pigeonholing your work could lead to creative set-backs. Don’t be afraid to take your book above and beyond. Just because that Western you’re writing is 100% taboo spitting, rootin’, tootin’ spurs and gunfire till the very end doesn’t mean you can’t throw in something crazy like a half human stead challenging your saddle siting hero to a duel.
Why not right? Yes, I know you’re afraid to alienate your target audience, but that’s the real reason we have genres isn’t it? To let people know there’s a little, lot or no weird in our stories. Don’t let your genre define how you write. Tell the story. Worry about the rest…later.