YA Genre 101: Fantasy/Science Fiction

Happy Monday, all!  Hope your weekend was a good one.

Today we pick up with YA Genre 101.  The topic today:  Fantasy and Sci Fi. (not SyFy as the Sci Fi channel would like to spell it).

Fantasy is not all knights and gnomes and dragons, but you will find elements of magic and paranormal activity.  The story tends to take place in other worlds with magical creatures but it doesn’t have to.  Many times the story takes place in both the real world and a mysterious magical world accessed by portals of some sort.  Fantasy stories tend to steer clear of technological/scientific themes.  They usually contain elements of folklore, and mythology.

Fantasy relies heavily on world-building.  Characters and the environment have rules (as magic has rules).  Word count for fantasy YA tends to be a bit higher because of the extra need for world building.

Science Fiction is fantasy in a technological sense.  It often takes place in outer space/other planets, but it doesn’t have to – as long as the theme is scientific/technology related. Many times the plot will involve aliens, paranormal activity, space travel and parallel universes.  It is not uncommon to see the story take place in the future, though it can happen in the ‘now’ if the ‘now’ is an advanced technological race.  You’ll tend to find items like ray guns, humanoid androids and mutants.

It is not unusual to see this genre overlap with others – urban fantasy being a huge offspring of fantasy.

Samples of YA Fantasy:


Samples of YA Science Fiction:



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Magical Monday – Enter: the Amethyst Dragon

Today I present to you the aloof, solitary, and self-centered Amethyst Dragon.

The most powerful of the neutral gem dragons, amethyst dragons are honorable, regal creatures. They inhabit the mountains of the northern islands, living on the shores of isolated lakes and pools. At birth, these dragons have lavender skin with fine, translucent-purple scales. These scales darken as the creature grows older, eventually reaching a sparkling lavender color.

These creatures approach life with a detached air, ignoring the conflicts of good and evil, law and chaos. At best, they see these conflicts as petty squabbles over inconsequential points of view, and not worthy of their time or consideration. These majestic dragons consider themselves to be the leaders of the gem dragons, and most of the lesser gem dragons acquiesce to this leadership – in everyday life and in the Council Aerie. While amethyst dragons consider their silver and copper cousins to be foolish and have an active dislike of red and white dragons, they do not consider any life form to be their inherent enemies. They prefer to reason out a settlement through discussion and negotiation rather than through combat, but they can and will fight if they must. Being honorable and noble, these dragons never hide or attempt to ambush foes. To them, even retreating is a dishonorable action, but they will flee if faced with certain death. Amethyst dragons eat large quantities of fish and gems. They keep vassals to attend to their needs, though they do not place as many restrictions or requirements on them as other dragon lords do. Most keep at least one hidden, underwater cave for seclusion and secrecy. Amethyst dragons approach mating in a very logical manner, seeking the optimum partner to produce the best offspring. Love and pleasure rarely, if ever, enter the equation.

They tend to be poor flyers but can burrow underground quite well.  Adult Amethyst dragons prefer to use invisibility to catch their opponents off-guard. Their breath weapon is a blast of concussive force. Additionally, once per day, Amethyst dragons may spit a crystalline lozenge which explodes on impact.

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Are those real?

As a fantasy writer, I’m always looking for inspiration on which to build characters, creatures, settings, etc.  Many times, I’m amazed by my own ideas born from my dreams and imagination.

Then I stumble upon something in reality that makes my dreams and imagination look like child’s play.

Not long ago, I posted pictures of the weedy and leafy sea dragons:

Today, I stumbled upon something just as intense and elegant…and it comes in the form of a mollusk.  Let me introduce you to the Blue Dragon (a.k.a. sea Swallow)…

Isn’t it beautiful!  And it has the name ‘dragon’ in it which makes it even more intriguing.

Check out this transparent sea cucumber.  Doesn’t it look like it came right out of a sci-fi novel?

Just goes to show…sometimes inspiration for fiction can be found simply by opening one’s eyes to reality.