What's Your Idea of 'General Fiction'?

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Dark Hunter Vs Shadowhunter

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Sep 25, 2014
What books have you read, or would you expect to find under this catch- all?

Extract: The Book Industry Group (BISG), established in 1975, an organization that works with publishers to standardize best practices created (and maintain) an almost-complete list of book genres with “BISAC Subject Codes.” There’s an an alphanumeric code for each genre and sub-genre like “FIC000000 FICTION / General.”

Source: Different Genres of Books - Book Genres

And a distinction made between Fantasy and Urban Fantasy. Mine might fall into the second because there'd still be a human struggle story, without the paranormal element which could be viewed as 'psychological'.

Fantasy: Fantasy stories are set on other worlds or in other realities. You can have vampires or werewolves or fairies, but in general, fantasy creatures tend to be more…fantastic, mythological – dragons, gryphons, three-headed dog beasts. Magic is a huge element of fantasy stories. Here is a little test: if you can take away the “weird” in the story (i.e. the beasts, the magic) and the world you are left with is still not the normal, everyday world you know, it’s a fantasy story. Lord of the Rings is a fantasy.

--Urban Fantasy – this genre is actually closer to a paranormal than a fantasy. These stories deal with magical or paranormal elements in a real world, contemporary (or urban) setting. Many paranormal books could also be classified as Urban Fantasy, including Twilight, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series, and The Dresden Files.

The Tarot card below is the one we'd all like to see in a reading. Amongst its many other meanings, it can indicate/foreshadow publishing/publisher.

Gilded Hierophant.jpg
In the US, urban can mean African-American - urban schools, urban culture, even urban music. I Googled "urban as euphemism" seeking a derivation and the best explanation was the great, post WWII, migration from the South to northern cities.

If I saw a book described as urban fantasy, I'd think the protagonist and most characters of any importance were African-Americans - as they are in urban romances.
Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy defined by place not ethnicity of characters. The story has an urban setting meaning set in a city. Urban fantasy exists on one side of a spectrum, opposite high fantasy, which is set in an entirely fictitious world. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary times and contain supernatural elements. However, the stories can take place in historical, modern, or futuristic periods, and the settings may include fictional elements. The prerequisite is that they must be primarily set in a city.

For example, here is Evernight Publishing's list of urban fantasies:

Urban Fantasy - Evernight Publishing

And here is Penguin Random House's list:

Urban Fantasy Books | Penguin Random House

Each publisher might define the sub-genre a bit differently, so it's best to read a few of their books in the category before submitting, to get an idea of what they're looking for.

This can be confusing since there is also a sub-genre, as @Patricia D talks about, of romance that focuses on urban (city) settings, but this particular sub-genre also has a dark flavor to it, and many of the stories are about street life. I've also seen this called "street lit" in romance circles.
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But back to @Katie-Ellen Hazeldine's original question, the definitions I've seen for general fiction are that it's genre fiction, also known as popular fiction. It's plot-driven, written with the intent of fitting into a specific genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre. So I believe it encompasses all genres of popular fiction, which can be really confusing IMHO. Most brick and mortar stores in the USA, at least, classify books into the particular genres, and put those that don't fit neatly into one specific genre in the "general fiction" section.

As an example, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet would be placed in general fiction in a brick and mortar store here in the USA.
I sometimes mix up general fiction with contemporary fiction. I agree, ethnicity should not define 'urban fiction'. I think a lot of political thrillers could fall into the general fiction genre. Contemporary fiction for me is Irvine Walsh, Ian Banks. Urban fiction would be set in a particular city environment.
Yer, I can't see Urban Fantasy as being African-American, unless they are the only ones living in Urban areas. Does not compute! Urban refers to highly populated areas. As for General Fiction, that's a nice broad heading, useful especially if your work doesn't fit into any other category, and the list of those just gets more extensive and complicated and open to interpretation....
As for General Fiction...nice broad heading, useful

Run that one past Peter, see what he says ;)
Mainstream fiction - another term for 'general'.
Not sure I'd use those two interchangeably.

I think of mainstream fiction as narrower than general fiction. It appeals to most audiences but not all. For example, erotic romance is not considered mainstream fiction.

Whereas general fiction encompasses all categories of genre fiction except literary. And just for fun, here's something to further confuse the classifications:

Fiction: Genre vs. Mainstream vs. Literary | Toasted Cheese
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Living with crazy buttocks, and more


Dark Hunter Vs Shadowhunter