Someone once said that the difference between Horror and Fantasy is that in Fantasy the protagonists are capable of defending themselves against the monsters while in Horror, they’re not. I think I’ve paraphrased rather horribly but let’s be honest, I can’t even remember who said it in the first place. I think it is incredibly true.
If one looks at the Lord of the Rings (the movie) and take the orcs out of the move, drop them into a random American suburb and had them chase after big breasted women who ran up the stairs instead of out the house, it would be a horror. Similarly, if one took Freddy Kruger and dropped him into Lord of the Rings, the elves would figure out it was only a dream/nightmare create brilliant weapons and slay Freddy.
You might wonder why I’m thinking about these things, but picking the right genre can be critical to breaking into the publishing world. According to the market, it is almost writing suicide to write a horror novel and expect it to sell and according to Query Shark, there is only one agent currently accepting submissions for the horror genre. What this really means though is that if you write a horror, you’ve taken all of your eggs and put them all in one basket and if this agent doesn’t like your writing, your work or the font you chose to use in the query letter, you’ve flushed a year or more of your life down the crapper.
Put in a protagonist who is capable of defending himself against the horrors thrown against him and you have a fantasy and there are a lot more agents and hence a bigger market you can submit your work to and possibly break in.
This is particularly important as my latest project Spoil the Child treads a dangerous line between the two.