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I know this is probably a lame question, but what exactly is the difference between Paranormal and Fantasy?

Is paranormal more ghosts, vampires, werewolves, etc? whereas fantasy is elves, etc?
Because I feel like it's really difficult to differentiate between the two sometimes.

And what classifies something as "urban" vs. "contemporary"?

 

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Both paranormal and urban fantasy can contain witches, vampires, werewolves, etc. It depends on the approach of the story.

As for your contemporary vs urban, I'm not sure which context you are asking. Under the fantasy label, they are the same. If you mean contemporary romance vs urban fantasy, obviously contemporary romance does not contain any fantastical elements.



 
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DChase said:
There is a lot of crossover, but for the most part paranormal romance is based around the relationship and includes a HEA. The urban fantasy is well, urban, and the story may contain a relationship, but not necessarily or it is secondary.
Well that's just because it's a romance. You can have a paranormal story, which I would say is mostly normal with only a few farfetched/unrealistic elements thrown in, and then there's fantasy which probably is a lot more elaborate in terms of the other-worldly structures it creates. Either can revolve around relationships and then you can tack on romance to the genre.
 

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foreverjuly said:
Well that's just because it's a romance. You can have a paranormal story, which I would say is mostly normal with only a few farfetched/unrealistic elements thrown in, and then there's fantasy which probably is a lot more elaborate in terms of the other-worldly structures it creates. Either can revolve around relationships and then you can tack on romance to the genre.
That's true, too. I agree if the story is mostly contemporary with a few unrealistic elements, like a ghost, or ESP, or telepathy or something like that, but the rest of the world is normal, its just straight paranormal. If a new world is built, with new rules in a modern day city or modern day-like city, it's urban fantasy.
 

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I feel your pain, PM.  I feel I've lost a little success with Demonspawn because I didn't classify it right.  :)

I'm running into similar problems with my next one.  My classification system, if the story could live without the romance or not.
 

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I'd add that fantasy usually has some kind of magical element to it, while paranormal is more other-worldly (if that makes sense; it does in my head!).

So The Lightning Thief is fantasy, because we have gods who have magical powers, but Twilight is paranormal, because the characters are other-worldly creatures who have certain skills or abilities.

In a lot of ways, though, paranormal is a sub-genre of fantasy.

As far as urban vs contemporary, I get the impression (no expert here) that urban is darker and that the setting is, well, urban. So you get Batman in Gotham city, but not a farm boy fighting monsters in Ohio.

So Smallville started (IMO) as contemporary fantasy and as the series went on, became more urban fantasy.
 

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I tend to see vamps/ghosts/weres classified as paranormal.  However, it's also put into fantasy.  If a bookseller has a paranormal section, they're listed there.  If not, they're often grouped with fantasy.  Contemporary is anything happening in modern times. 

Urban fantasy, according to an editor I asked, is in an urban setting, with a "darker" storyline.  I asked if urban fantasy can include the setting of the suburbs of an urban area.  She said it could, but generally with urban fantasy you think of vamps running around at night in the downtown area of a metropolis.  Lots of action and kick-ass heroes.  (I'm not a big reader of urban fantasy, so this is just what I was told.)
 
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