Reflective Journal Week 4: Defining fantasy as a genre


Aurealis is a science fiction/fantasy magazine, and as such all submissions are required to be either science fiction or fantasy, which is why the short story I am writing, Darkwood, is a work of fantasy fiction.

Universally defined as a genre featuring magic and/or some other form of supernatural phenomena, fantasy fiction is complex and constantly evolving, with a plethora of sub and splinter genres. The sub-genre of fantasy that Darkwood aligns with most is Young Adult (YA) fantasy.

YA fantasy is described by Alter (2015) as being primarily aimed at a young adult audience, with the protagonist also being a young adult. Some well-known examples of this sub-genre of fantasy include the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (1997 – 2007) and the Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody (1987).

A more accessible form of fantasy, with a combination of big plots and an uncomplicated writing style that attracts tweens, teens and adults alike, a well written YA fantasy story, as explained by Crockett (2013), features the following:

  • A protagonist with relatable humanity
  • Step-by-step immersion into the fantasy world
  • Believability
  • No stereotyping of teenagers
  • And if applicable, romances that have substance.

As Darkwood is a short work of YA fantasy, it is impossible to incorporate all of these elements, so I have concentrated on the writing style, the presence of magic, and the protagonist. My protagonist is a 13 year old girl, who thanks to her magical abilities, is thrust into a hostile environment that requires maturity and wit to overcome.



Alter, N 2015, ’17 Common Fantasy Sub-Genres’, Thoughts on Fantasy, blog post, 7 December, viewed 31 July 2017,

Carmody, I 1987 – ongoing, The Obernewtyn Chronicles, Penguin, Melbourne.

Crockett, L 2013, ‘What makes a good YA fantasy (and how to spot it)’, Quirk Books, 24 January, viewed 31 July 2016,

Rowling, J 1997 – 2007, Harry Potter book series, Bloomsbury, London.


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