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Not sure if someone talked about this already, but a few days ago I'd come across a book specifically labeled "Dark Fantasy" and it got me to thinking about Dark Fantasy and Horror as genres; specifically, the difference between them. It can't be the fantasy elements, because both genres can portray fantastical and supernatural things--giving both a Fantasy-feel in their own rights. I've found that some believe the difference is, essentially, that one has a scary setting and the other is meant to scare (boiled down to the basest thought). Which I liked at first, but now I'm not so sure. Calling it "dark" gives me the idea that there are horror elements, and whatever form a horror element comes in it is meant to thrill a reader, even if it doesn't fully scare. And if all it takes is setting, then why not call it Dystopian Fantasy?

Personally, I had never believed there was a difference except to someone erroneously believing horror equated to gore (making Dark Fantasy carry anything horror-like that wasn't gory). As if it were the PG rating for Horror, to label those stories that might be considered safe for people turned off by slasher films. Reading that in print, though, it seems to assume--without surety--that there's never any gore in Dark Fantasy. Which puts me back at square one.

So, what IS the difference between Dark Fantasy and Horror? Where is the line?

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I've often wondered the same thing since first seeing the term Dark Fantasy and I pretty much thought there was no difference either. Perhaps it's just a buzzword someone created as horror is thought to be more niche and since Game of Thrones "Fantasy" is now a thing, as geek is because of Big Bang Theory.

To me it seems like a dilution of genres, all these new terms that people are coming up with. I'm sure the powers that be think that they need to narrow their markets more, but isn't this just creating more genre readers?
I'm not even sure what facet dark fantasy is supposed to encompass of horror. And do I now need to start calling my favourite authors dark fantasy? Splitting their novels up into groups? "Oh James Herbert's The Rats series is definitely horror, but Portent, The Magic Cottage, etc are dark fantasy."

I've taken to calling my book dark fantasy/horror. But it feels like I will have to keep adding labels sometimes for every single little element included.

dark fantasy/horror/sci-fi/romance/supernatural/erotica

But then of course, when I go to the bookshop horror novels are filed under Fantasy. Maybe this is where it stems from?

I've just written a short story for a sub call for 'urban dark fantasy' that asked for specifically horror traits - and I still can't tell the difference! (It's for Bloodlines anthology at Ticonderoga Publications if you want to check what they ask for out - sub call is still open by the way.) 

Steph :)

Seems to be a common theme, no one can tell the difference. I say manipulations of marketing monkeys.

And, ooh. That anthology looks interesting.

Steph Ellis said:

I've just written a short story for a sub call for 'urban dark fantasy' that asked for specifically horror traits - and I still can't tell the difference! (It's for Bloodlines anthology at Ticonderoga Publications if you want to check what they ask for out - sub call is still open by the way.) 

Steph :)

I just came across this post on the HWA website and I think it's 100% right now that I think about it.

http://www.horror.org/horror-is.htm

So perhaps, then, we should not ask what the difference is, but just what dark fantasy is?

This post goes into it at length, and I tend to agree: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2009/07/19/dark-fantasy/

The key quote there for me being:

So perhaps dark fantasy is more a description of what something is not, rather than what it is.

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