Fantasy Friday – The Fifth (or And Speaking of Sub-genres)

Well, I’m excited. The April 2008 issue of Writer’s Digest has an article about the hot genres of pop fiction, and science fiction/fantasy is on the list! In a graphic of subgenres, twenty varieties appear. Mind you, “horror” is listed as a separate genre with seventeen of its own subdivisions.

In comparison, mystery/crime has three subdivisions (although police procedural has fourteen sub-subgenres listed). Romance has a mere seven subgenres, with “Christian” being one.

So what, you might ask, is exciting about all this? Is Christian fantasy one of the subdivisions? No, but epic fantasy is, and that’s what I write, from a Christian worldview. Not urban fantasy or dark fantasy, SF thriller, new age, cyberpunk, steampunk, science fantasy, Arthurian, or fantastic alternate history. Those subgenres, and others on the list, seem to appeal to a select group, a niche, whereas epic fantasy has an appeal that spans age groups and reading preferences.

And here’s what the Writer’s Digest article said:

[Crawford] Kilian [author of Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy] also sees a return to eic fantasy, spurred by The Lord of the Rings movies. He cites a new series, Queen of the Orcs, derived from one of Tolkien’s fanciful species. The return of the epic style is welcome to [Harper Collins Voyager Publishing Director Jane] Johnson who wrote a companion piece for The Two Towers, and is currently working on an epic children’s fantasy series, the Eidolon Chronicles.

“It’s hard to beat the rush of finding a tale with huge scope and a cast of brilliant characters,” she says. “For me, there’s nothing more absorbing.”

For reader and writer alike, I might add. How else can anyone explain the huge love affair our culture has with Lord of the Rings, which spills out to include nearly everything Tolkien.

So there you have it. I’m finally writing what’s “in,” at least according to this general market writing periodical. 😀

One other reason I’m excited. Recently I received news that a story I entered in the Writer’s Digest Short, Short Story contest placed. No, not in the money, but I do get free books, my name in the magazine, and my story included in the collection of winners. That’s cool in itself, but here’s the part I’m excited about. The story is Christian fantasy, the way I write it—like a parable. And this contest was not genre specific. In other words, this story was judged along with contemporary stories, literary stories, you name it.

As I see it, that confirms my belief that Christian fantasy can “cross over.” It does not have to be a story only for Christians. Of course, those who don’t have the eyes to see may not discover the meaning of the parable. They will, however, enjoy a good story, and it may be a story that will plant a seed or become a tool in the hands of a believer to illustrate what they’ve been telling their non-Christian friends about the gospel. At least that’s my prayer.


  1. Congrats on placing with your story, Rebecca!


  2. Congratulations on the Writers Digest award. Good publicity, too. I’ll be curious to read about what you thought of their contest.
    I’ll read the article you’ve listed. The few market reports I’ve scanned list SF&F as a flat market, with niches as you’ve noted – dark urban fantasy, romance, etc. Best regards.

    Michael A. Heald


  3. I’ll add my congratulations, as well. Good work!

    I have the latest issues of both Writer’s Digest and The Writer, but haven’t delved into them yet. So much reading, so little time for writing–but I’ll check out that article.

    Just some musings:

    Do you remember a controversy in churches and in the Christian music industry about artists “crossing over” to secular labels and radio stations? As a teenager–maybe it was a bit of minor rebellion–I didn’t have a problem with it, if the message remained the same, but the adults were concerned about a watered down, weak version of Christianity being presented to the world, or that any reference to Christ, God, truth, salvation, etcetera, would be excised from the songs played for secular audiences. In many cases, the adults were right: the truth was expunged or veiled, so that the songs would be accepted.

    What would have happened if those singers had just done what you did with this contest, and put their unabashedly Christian work out there, just as it was?

    If their goal was to sell albums or make names for themselves, they might not have succeeded; but, if the goal was to get the message out, what results might we have seen, twenty years later?

    I’m not saying we writers should use our novels as pulpits–far from it–but I hope none of us are ashamed of our faith.


  4. Becky,
    Congratulations are indeed in order!! Woohoo!!

    I want to add a fun note here: Ann Mulligan has started a game. I would like to tag you with an invitation to come join the fun! Please see my latest post on and drop by with some great Fantasy!!

    Thanks! and Congratulations again!!


  5. Good work, Becky!


  6. Many hearty congrats, Becky! May there be many more along the way.

    For all Becky’s blog readers, I’ve read the story she’s talking about and it is VERY good. It deserved an award.

    Keep writing!


  7. YEE HAW! That’s HUGE!!!! Placing in the WD contest is a huge, huge, deal! And you were too in the money. Don’t you think books cost money? And out of the thousands who entered, our own Becky was chosen with a fantasy. This is so cool.

    Hope you don’t mind me enjoying your accomplishment like this. I knew you back when you were just a peon, so I should be allowed to bask in your glory, I figure.


  8. Congratulations, Becky! I’m seriously impressed! What do we have to do to read this story?

    Also, 17 variations of horror? I thought I was doing good just to classify my stuff as horror. Sigh. Our world is so overly specialized, it makes me tired sometimes.


  9. Thanks for your kind wishes, all.

    Keanan, your thoughts are very interesting. I wonder if times have changes to the point where the door is open in the secular world to discussion of spiritual things, whereas when the music folks crossed over, it was more closed.

    That being said, my writing is more in the form of a parable and I have no doubt that many people could read the story and see nothing Christian about it. Those who have ears to hear … or someone to explain it … well, I think the Christian element is pretty plain. But of course I would, since I wrote it. 😀

    Merrie, since I forced you to read it (;-) ), it was nice of you to add your kind words.

    Mark, as to reading the story, there’s a collection of winning stories available for $6.95 or something, but you can just wait until I get my copy and you can borrow it from me.



  10. Congratulations on placing in the contest. I stumbled upon your site through a Google search and goodness, I’m glad I found you. Although I primarily read urban fantasy I like epic fantasy as well. I’ll be visiting often.


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