This post is half tongue-in-cheek and half serious points. It could probably also be called 11 things that any fiction can do, but that didn’t sound so cool. And before anyone gets more annoyed at me, I’m am not trying to say fantasy isn’t equal to other genres. I’m just reminding people that other genres are also worthwhile.
Also though I only mention fantasy I’m really talking about spec-fic in general. Anything out of this world, or partially so.
Non-fantasy stories can spark imagination too
I hardly read any fantasy as a child, but was my imagination decreased by that? No. My bed being the covered wagon we we’re travelling to the frontier in was one of the most realistic games. We had magic blankets that floated on lava and imaginary families inspired by a non-fiction kids book. Biographies of missionaries have sent me all over the world. I can imagine crossing a vine bridge in Papua-New Guinea though I’ve never even seen a photograph.
Other stories can have brave heroes
So think of a fantasy story. There’s a fair chance it will feature a brave hero completing amazing (or slightly less amazing) feats. But heroes exist out of fantasy. Just think of a war story. Many have brave, inspiring heroes. Also heroism isn’t just about battles. A nurse just going about her duties is a hero, parents struggling, but still doing the best they can for their children. They are some of the best heroes.
Other stories can create deep emotion
Emotion comes from characters. Characters are common to stories. That was slightly too simple, so I had better elaborate. Emotions are created in stories by reminding you of real motions you’ve felt. (or something like that) All you need for this is realistic characters.
Other stories deal with social and philosophical issues
Fantasy is a good medium for focusing in on certain themes without bringing a long a lot of baggage, but other books can do very well. Dystopian is also spec-fic, but it is often great at this. Also stories that deal directly with the actual issues can be enormously powerful. Sometimes A story of a malnourished refugee in Africa, might be more powerful than that of a refugee from the land of Ulinent. We can’t help people in fantasy worlds, but we can in the real world.
Other books can awake a longing for great purpose
Some stories can bring an inspiring sense of awe and purpose, a reminder of how great the world is and that there’s much more to life than simple survival. Fantasy is a great vehicle for grandeur, but the simple thing of out world can also achieve this. It’s our world where we have purpose after all.
Other stories can be complex and twisty
I’ll admit that the most complex books I’ve read have been fantasy. But I’ve read some historical that comes close. Maybe the twists don’t come from outside the laws of nature, but that doesn’t been we’ll see them coming.
Other stories can be fun and adventurous
This is really obvious and actually two points. Adventure exists in our world, and it can be pretty exhilarating. A humour or even quirkyness isn’t out of this world either. Some of the most laugh out loud books I’ve read have been collections of letters sent by real people. Reality can be plain ridiculous at times.
Other stories can have beautiful settings
Our world is a beautiful place and it can be described magnificently. Grand scenery isn’t sole the property of fantasy books; it might just be a little more common in them. When you have to invent your whole world, it might make you a little more aware of what it looks like. Or maybe not. It probably comes down tot he author and their skills of visualization and observation. Personally I don’t pay enough attention to my surroundings and forget to describe the made up world of my own stories far too often.
Other books can be relate-able
Well of course. If a cat who must kill a dragon is relateable, surely someone trying to catch an ordinary criminal ought to be relateable. Though honestly some people click better with some characters. It’s not a fixed thing.
Other stories can be original
Fantasy doesn’t have the same limits as other books, but it still manages to have a huge number of tropes. Other genres have tropes too of course, but they also can overcome them. The characters can vary hugely. The thoughts and themes behind the books are limitless. And the minds behind the books are different. Sometimes not having to invent a whole world can yield more depth of character.
And in case you aren’t into fantasy: Other books can be unrealistic
Hugely unrealistic. For example where the whole conflict is caused by a simple misunderstanding that would be fixed in a conversation. (yes, I’m talking about romance novels here) That’s not very realistic. Or when everything turns out fine due to some coincidence. Or when someone doesn’t act like a normal person would. Or when things just turn out to perfectly. If you’re trying to escape reality, fantasy (the genre) isn’t the only way.
I wrote this because I grew up mostly reading historical fiction, and Enid Blyton books and did love them. I don’t want to leave all that behind for fantasy. Kids adventure stories are fun even though it’s ridiculous how adventures keep happening to the same kids.