Saturday, May 12, 2012

Parents by Genre

When I started thinking about how I use parents in my writing, I realized that it depends on the genre. When I'm working on a fantasy project, the parents tend to be pretty absent. But if I'm writing realistic fiction, the parents are much more present, and are often a strong source of conflict.

Why this huge difference? Here are some ideas:

In fantasy, the focus is usually on the world, the magic, etc. and less on the family dynamic. There is also a common theme in fantasy of having to find parents who are lost; in fact, that's something that I'll be exploring in the sequels to My Very UnFairy Tale Life. But while my main character is searching for her parents, she's going to go through a lot of adventures on her own.

Meanwhile, in stories that are rooted more in the real world, it makes sense that parents would be a bigger factor because the main character's struggles are more focused on home, school, etc. 

Do I have a preference for stories with parents vs. without parents? I think I actually prefer fictional parents who are somewhat in between. They are involved enough to be a source of support (and conflict) for the main character, but are also cheerfully oblivious enough to allow the character to have his/her own story.

Does anyone else see this parental difference depending on genre? How involved do you like parents to be in stories?


  1. You hit this nail on the head, Anna. Fantasy is to 'get-away,' and parents are real-world luggage.

  2. I mostly read (and write) contemporary YA. I agree with you, I like the parents to be present and supportive but I definitely don't want to see too much of them.

  3. Wow--I actually never thought of this before, Anna. It's pretty fascinating, actually...

  4. I never thought of it that way before either, but it makes a lot of sense.

  5. I've noticed this, too. Great post.