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Needs Help: Supernatural Fiction get usage counts

 26 supergod, Sun, 30th Mar '14 4:44:31 AM from the big city
Walking the Earth
The only way to judge something as horror is if it's primarily focused on the reader or not. Anything else featuring the supernatural should be fantasy. It's not always as clear, obviously, especially since a lot of fantasy can use horror elements, like the Castlevania games. I've seen Lovecraft classified as both fantasy and horror (and even sci-fi). I don't think anyone would call the film adaptation of The Shining fantasy, but many people would consider Ghostbusters and Casper to be fantasy.
For we shall slay evil with logic...
What things should be called and what things are called is not quite the same thing. I think what is relevant to a wiki like this is what things are called, not what they should be called.

The problem is, this appears to be a term that does not in fact have a single consistent meaning that is universally accepted and is invariably considered distinct from Horror and Fantasy by everyone that uses it.

I think that Raven Wilder in Post #15 is the closest to summing up the various reasons that this term might be used instead of Fantasy or Horror. I rather fear that this is the best we can get without being misleading of forcing a single clear cut definition that goes against the way the term is frequently used.

 28 supergod, Sun, 30th Mar '14 5:21:04 PM from the big city
Walking the Earth
Maybe a good idea is to actually list some works that are considered "supernatural fiction" and then find some common characteristics.

I'd be fine with most of Raven Wilder's points but I still don't agree with the second point. Yes, it's not a rule, but I still don't think that if it contains those characteristics it will be more likely to be called supernatural fiction, especially since there are probably more books marketed as fantasy with those traits then there are "supernatural fiction" books with those traits.
For we shall slay evil with logic...
Raven Wilder
Maybe a better way to put it would be that the Supernatural Fiction label, while often used for tales of mystery, suspense, or personal drama that have a supernatural bent, is rarely used for stories with a strong action/adventure component; those usually get labeled Fantasy.

EDIT: As for examples, this webpage lists and describes some notable supernatural films.

edited 30th Mar '14 6:03:05 PM by RavenWilder

"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 30 shimaspawn, Mon, 31st Mar '14 12:54:34 AM from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Generally Supernatural Fiction is fiction that has supernatural elements, but the narrative focus is on other things.

Bewitched for example is a sitcom about a married couple, and the wife happens to be a witch, but the magic isn't really the focus so much as the relationship between the couple. It's a sitcom that has supernatural elements.

Contrast The Lord of the Rings which is set in a magical fantasy land and the magic and questing is the focus. That's generally classed as fantasy.

It's a matter of what's the real bread and butter of the story.

That's why vampire romance is normally classed as Supernatural Fiction. It's romance + supernatural as an add on rather than supernatural as the focus.

That's the difference between Supernatural Fiction and Fantasy.
Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

-Philip K. Dick
Would that also include things like Groundhog Day which as a supernatural element (repeating day) as the main gimmick but really is not marketed as a Fantasy film?

edited 31st Mar '14 5:14:25 AM by Catbert

[up][up] Vampire romance is usually classed as Paranormal Romance.
Still new. Still learning. Asking questions and making mistakes.
 33 Septimus Heap, Mon, 31st Mar '14 3:05:11 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
A Wizard boy
Two categorizations don't have to be mutually exclusive, and part of the purpose behind Supernatural Fiction is to classify such stuff as Paranormal Romance where the focus is on the mundane but the supernatural is a component.

Don't know anything about "purpose", I just know which one gets used.
Still new. Still learning. Asking questions and making mistakes.
 35 shimaspawn, Mon, 31st Mar '14 11:44:43 AM from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Yes, Groundhog Day is a perfect example of Supernatural Fiction. Paranormal Romance is sort of a child of both Fantasy and Supernatural Fiction. Where any given work in the genre falls is dependent on the work, but a fair bit of it is more Supernatural Fiction than Fantasy.
Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

-Philip K. Dick
 36 supergod, Tue, 1st Apr '14 4:05:37 AM from the big city
Walking the Earth
I'd call Groundhog Day fantasy, because the fantastical element is a big part of the story.

After thinking about it, I think it could be useful term for things like Hamlet.
For we shall slay evil with logic...
Back in Ye Elder Days Of Yore when one went to a rental store to get a movie for the weekend, one generally did not find things like Groundhog Day or It's a Wonderful Life the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of the store.

edited 1st Apr '14 5:20:12 AM by Catbert

 38 supergod, Tue, 1st Apr '14 7:46:02 AM from the big city
Walking the Earth
We have an entire page about that phenomenon.
For we shall slay evil with logic...
Raven Wilder
[up][up] Thing is, most works of fiction fall into multiple genres, but a physical copy of a book or movie can only be stocked in one section of a store at a time. Groundhog Day would be put in the Comedy section, despite being a comedy/drama/fantasy, while something like Evil Dead 2 would be in the Horror section, despite being a horror/comedy/fantasy, and Willow would be put in the Fantasy section despite being a fantasy/comedy/adventure.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
Raven Wilder
So I made a few minor adjustments to the proposed description I posted earlier. Anyone have any objections if I go ahead and make this the new page description?

Supernatural Fiction is pretty much what it sounds like: it's what you call fictional stories about the supernatural. That is, it's what you call them when you're not calling them Fantasy.

While fantasy is a very broad genre, covering all manner of stories about magic, the supernatural, and the otherworldly, for most people the words "fantasy fiction" are associated first and foremost with High Fantasy: epic action/adventure stories set in an imaginary world full of flying dragons, sword-wielding heroes, fireball-slinging wizards, and all that jazz. Because of this, some stories that contain one or more elements of fantasy won't be called fantasy; they'll be called supernatural fiction, to indicate that, yes, they contain fantastical elements, but aren't what people usually think of when they hear the word "fantasy" (not-so-coincidentally, this can also help a story avoid the Sci-Fi Ghetto).

Common reasons a story might be called supernatural fiction (or possibly "paranormal fiction") are:

  • The setting. Supernatural fiction is almost invariably set in the real world, while stories set in Constructed Worlds are pretty much always called fantasy (though plenty of stories set in the real world are called fantasy, too).

  • The genre. While the supernatural fiction label is often applied to tales of mystery, suspense, romance, or personal drama, it's rarely applied to adventure stories; those are usually called fantasy. Meanwhile, Horror stories with supernatural elements are mostly still just called horror stories.

  • The point of view. Supernatural fiction is often told from the Point of View of ordinary people who aren't aware of the supernatural until they encounter it during the story. If the point of view characters have been embroiled in the supernatural since before the story began, it's more likely to be called fantasy.

  • The prevalence of the supernatural. In supernatural fiction, there may be only one or two supernatural elements at play, rather than whole communities of supernatural beings as is common in High and Urban Fantasy.

  • The form of the supernatural. Both dragons and ghosts are supernatural beings, but stories about dragons are normally called fantasy, while stories about ghosts are normally called supernatural fiction (when they're not called Horror). This may be because very few people believe that dragons are real, but there are a great many people who believe that ghosts are real. In this regard, supernatural fiction can be seen as a counterpart to supernatural non-fiction. There are many non-fiction books containing supposedly true accounts of haunted houses, demonic possessions, and occult rituals, and supernatural fiction often draws inspiration from these stories, portraying their supernatural content in a way that emulates the tone, if not the details, of what real people have claimed to have experienced. (If the author claims the supernatural elements of their story actually exist, then you've entered the murky territory seperating Supernatural Fiction from Religious Fiction.) Meanwhile, if a story is called fantasy, it's more likely to craft its supernatural elements from pure imagination, with only a token resemblance to real life supernatural beliefs. Generally speaking, a witch giving someone boils by calling on pagan gods and performing an arcane ritual is likely to be supernatural fiction; a witch turning someone into a mouse by wiggling their nose is likely to be fantasy.

See also Gothic Horror, which Supernatural Fiction is often inspired by, Paranormal Romance, a popular Sub Genre, and Magical Realism, another kind of fantasy-that's-not-called-fantasy.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 41 supergod, Tue, 15th Apr '14 8:52:14 AM from the big city
Walking the Earth
I think it's fine now.
For we shall slay evil with logic...
 42 Willbyr, Tue, 15th Apr '14 10:52:13 AM from North Little Rock, AR Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
Anime-ted
[up][up] That looks solid to me.
 43 Septimus Heap, Tue, 15th Apr '14 10:54:09 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
A Wizard boy
Take out the "pretty much what it sounds like"; it's just cruft and the trope is sinkholed anyhow; other than that it's fine.

Raven Wilder
What do you mean by "sinkholed"?
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 45 Septimus Heap, Tue, 15th Apr '14 11:52:10 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
A Wizard boy
The trope that is linked there has nothing to do with what the page is using it for: Sinkhole.

Raven Wilder
Okay, description's been updated. The Laconic definition, too.

I think the example list needs some tweaking/expanding, and it Needs More Wicks, but other than that is there anything else folks want to add?
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
Raven Wilder
Okay, doesn't look like there's anything else to do here.

Can we get this thread closed?
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
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