This week, we’re going to talk about weird fantasy. Weird fantasy is a little bit more of an odd genre, but it’s no less popular for it. People who like fantasy and horror will likely find that they enjoy weird fantasy. So let’s take a look.
Defining Weird Fantasy
Weird fantasy is a sub-genre of speculative fiction that started with H.P. Lovecraft. Pinning down exactly what the genre is can be a bit difficult since it’s a mix of several things. Generally speaking, weird fantasy is a blend between horror, paranormal, and fantasy genres. However, it isn’t uncommon for the genre to include strange, nontraditional aliens, so science fiction can be blended in as well.
The genre typically avoids the typical players in the paranormal scene, such as vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, or vastly reinvents them for the purposes of the genre. So if you’re looking for these features in the genre, you won’t find them. At least, not as you may have expected to.
It should be noted that weird fantasy is neither horror or Gothic fantasy but is instead something entirely different that cannot be classified in either genre. This is likely owing to the blending of horror, paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi.
Writing Weird Fantasy
Weird fantasy can describe a lot of things, but let’s take a look at how you can write any type of weird fiction by using the main elements and moods of weird fiction.
Main Elements of Every Weird Fantasy
Before we jump into the four types of weird fiction or fantasy, let’s cover the basic elements that are present in all of them. First, every weird fantasy must contain some aspect of underlying horror or abnormality, usually in the form of some object or entity. Second, it should contain the general effects of horror. Third, it needs an object to focus or embody the horror or abnormality with. Fourth, it should contain the appropriate fear responses to the horror. And fifth and finally, it should contain the effects of the horror on the given situation.
Mood and Focus #1
The first type is one where the mood and focus is one how the marvel or horror relates to some event, condition, or phenomenon. Usually, these types of weird fantasy work well with a mood focused on a general situation, condition, legend, or intellectual subject. It can also work well with a mood that expresses a pictorial concept.
Mood and Focus #2
The second type focuses on the actions of people in response to the marvel or phenomenon. This one works better with a mood expressing a specific feeling or a mood that expresses a specific dramatic situation or climax.
Pivotal Points of Weird Fantasy
No matter what, weird fantasy should always have a focus on the effects of the weird on the world. The truly weird cannot fail to have an impact, and if people in your novel treat it as though it doesn’t or as if it is commonplace, it ceases to be weird and becomes poorly written as a result.
Weird fantasy is definitely a bit of a strange genre within speculative fiction and fantasy. However, for those who enjoy clear horror aspects blended with fantasy, paranormal, and sci-fi, weird fantasy is a great genre to write. If you’re thinking about experimenting with it, the aspects discussed above should be a good starting place for you to do so. So now, all that remains is to go do it.
Further Reading and Resources
Disclaimer: I don’t really read much in the way of weird fantasy, so none of the books below are ones I’m going to suggest for children since weird fantasy can get pretty dark and I haven’t read any of them.
H.P Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulu and Other Weird Stories
Arthur Machen’s The White People
Laird Barron’s The Imago Sequence