I am wanting to write a short story in the fantasy genre maybe genre blending. but I'm not sure if my idea is still considered fantasy. an example of what I was kind of thinking is:

a man is walking along late at night and sees a bright flash of light coming at him its moving around erratically but just when he thinks its about to hit him its gone. just when he starts to think he's gone crazy and imagined the while thing he catches some movement out of the corner of his eye. he then sees a mystical creature and has this whole interaction with it blah blah blah… then long story short it turns out it was kind of a dream? and he was actually hit by a car that was the bright light and the mystical creature represents the after life. and there will be things he sees in the "dream" that point to or symbolize what is really happening to him outside his mind so the reader isn't all confused by the switch to him being hit by a car but.....

as long as the creature and things that happen while he's "dreaming" are fantasy fulfilling does the over all story count as fantasy or does it fall into a different genre?

  • Is there any element of the dream that is manifest in reality but originated in the dream (i.e. the creature gives some evidence of his existence, such as a question to an answer the man doesn't know that is as true in the real world as it is in the dream world)? I ask because stories set in dreams are limited by what the dreamer knows, unless the creature was "real" in which case something beyond the dreamers knowledge can be passed to the dreamer who brings it back into reality.
    – hszmv
    Jan 14, 2020 at 17:58
  • +It would also preserve the "maybe magic maybe mundane" element as the nature of the mind's operation and dreaming are such that we still do not fully understand the mechanics. It could be the creature really does exist but is approaching the man in his dream to preserve the masquerade of not existing, or it could be the man had the clue and the head trauma caused him to forget about it, so he attributes it to the dream creature.
    – hszmv
    Jan 14, 2020 at 18:01

4 Answers 4


The whole idea idea of genre is to help reader have a quick idea of the book before reading/buying. It's generally decided by publisher rather than writer. I've seen books with multiple disconnected or sometimes even conflicting genres printed on their front page.

So, the real question is who are your target audience? Will a fantasy reader be disappointed after reading your book?

P.S: You can always insert genre in other ways like horror with fantasy elements, etc.


For the lack of separate "afterlife" genre, I would say the following:

  • If your plot takes place in fictional afterlife world, then it's likely a Fantasy.

  • If it happens in the real world, while the protagonist becomes incorporeal, then it's Paranormal.

  • If you put real effort into scientific explanation of all of this, the genre becomes Sci-Fi.

  • the story is mostly about the whole moment with the creature I wouldn't consider it paranormal because its not about the accident nor it the time in his "dream state" like ghosts or anything and while it alludes to things happening outside his mind the readers do not know that it is not real as the entire thing is read as if it is a real moment until the last two or three lines for the closure. he doesn't leave his body nor see any actual after life its all based on the readers interpretation of the events Jan 14, 2020 at 1:41

It's not fantasy, it is a different genre. In fantasy, the world and things in it are real, for the story, but not the same as actual Earth. So there doesn't have to be magic (that is called Science Fantasy), but the world and its contents (creatures, magical or not) has to be the real thing. Your magical creature is not real.

We might say the "afterlife" is a fantasy, but that is usually excluded.

That was not the case in the fantasy series "Dead Like Me", in which some select people, at death, become Grim Reapers; but nice ones: They are there to help dying people make the transition from living to dead and moving on. So in that case the afterlife is real for the story, some of the dead have jobs to do.

I'm not sure what your genre is; probably literary contemporary fiction.

  • im not arguing with you here but would it really if the entire story plays like a fantasy type and you only find out about the wreck in the last two or the lines of the story as a closer/cliff hanger "By definition, fantasy is a genre that typically features the use of magic or other supernatural phenomena in the plot, setting, or theme. Magical or mythological creatures often feature, as well as races other than humans, such as elves, dwarves, or goblins." Jan 14, 2020 at 1:21
  • that is a quote from thecreativepen.com if my story was not even really about the accident but the adventure its self only using the accident as a shocker moment or a turning point but the main theme and setting being the other world and its inhabitant that the character meets. again I'm not arguing but I feel every answer has the potential to be better with a little bit of dissuading evidence Jan 14, 2020 at 1:34
  • Okay, you are writing an "It was all a dream" story, which is considered cliché and readers do not find such endings satisfying. You propose to defeat that reaction by making it a mystery they will solve before the end, so they know the stuff happening isn't real. If that is true and it's obvious enough for most readers to get it, then those same readers aren't going to believe any of the supernatural elements are real: They will know those are metaphors for something happening in real life. So the real plot doesn't revolve around magic. It's not a fantasy because the magic isn't real.
    – Amadeus
    Jan 14, 2020 at 11:29

Contrary to the answers claiming the contrary, this is in fact a well-recognized subgenre of fantasy, known as posthumous fantasy, a narrative whose most prominent fantastic element is that it takes place in an imagined afterlife. Although you might quibble with the categorization as fantasy, the fact remains, in the absence of any confirmed reportage from the "Other Side," any depiction of the afterlife must be speculative, and thus is necessarily in some category of speculative fiction (the larger supergenre including both fantasy and science fiction).

In addition, from a functional point of view, your story has recognizable, irreducible fantasy elements, and is therefore most likely to have fantasy fans as its core audience.

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