When I first did research on the genre for Shining Armor, I had no idea if my story was more a romance or a fantasy novel. Even after all this time, I’m still not entirely sure.
I thought I was making progress when I found out Paranormal Romance includes shape-shifters because my novel has shape-shifters of the dragon kind. And Master of Roads has a paranormal edge what with the “falling in love with the god of death” thing. I was so happy. I found my subgenre!
But the more I read, the less sure I became in what I thought I had figured out. However, I think I’ve finally found it. Just to be sure, here’s a list of the different subgenres that might fit and how my writing, in general, does or doesn’t match up.
Paranormal Romance – The couple and their relationship is the focus of the story. PNR is fun, light, pulpy at times and tends to have a high amount of steam.
A couple of examples off the top of my head: Kiss of Fire by Deborah Cooke and Darkness and Light by J. A. Belfield (though D&L tends to be a bit on the dark side).
The point of Shining Armor is not whether or not Nicholas and Annie get together in the end. The point is how a beta turns into an alpha. Also, there’s passion but no sex. Same for Master of Roads. Oh, and Master doesn’t have a strong HEA either. It’s a happy ending, but not the kind you’d read at the end of a romance novel.
Fantastic Romance – I’m still not sure if this is the one that has romance at the center, but one of the two (Romantic Fantasy and this one) has romance at the heart. The other has a non-romantic main plot with a strong romantic sub-plot. One tends to read more like a romance novel in a fantasy setting. The other, like a fantasy story with romantic events within, and the HEA isn’t certain.
Mercedes Lackey’s 500 Kingdoms series is an example of this, even though the romance isn’t introduced until about halfway through the book. The River’s Gift, also by her, would fit in this category as well.
I think Shining Armor fits in the second, whatever it happens to be called. Same for Master of Roads.
Romantic Fantasy – The one I think fits my writing. Maybe. (see above para.) If it does, then it doesn’t fit the common plots in the Wikipedia article. That could be a good thing.
Urban Fantasy – Tends to be contemporary and hip, with an edge to it. Can be pretty violent. Romance can be there, but takes a back seat while the main plot roars ahead.
Though it isn’t unusual for me to have a fair amount of violence in a story, I don’t think there’s anything about what I write that’s edgy or hip. Who knows? That may change.
One thing I’ve learned to keep in mind with genre, as a reader, is that these boundaries change. And maybe it doesn’t matter too much anymore, now that I’ve gone indie. The point is, for now, I’ve decided I write romantic fantasy: fantasy with a strong romantic element. It seems to fit best.
Related Article: paranormal romance vs. urban fantasy by Christine Rains
Painting: Proserpine by D.G. Rosetti