Really, how urban is that urban fantasy?
Here is an easy 10 question quiz to determine whether what you are reading, or even what you are writing, can fit comfortably into the category of Urban Fantasy.
Doing it old school – simply make a note of what letter you picked each time, use those to add your score at the end and then find out where your story fits!
Question 1: Pick the one that best describes the main settings of the story.
(a) Farmland, Medieval landscape, or Rural
(b) Town, Fort or a walled city, or Suburban
(c) City, Urban center, or Capital city
Question 2: Which best fits the lead character – the protagonist?
(b) Teenager, or Man
Question 3: What type of job does the main character have?
(a) Student, or a Stay-at-home parent
(b) Farming, or White-Collar office worker
(c) Detective, Magic user, or Musician/artist/writer, etc.
Question 4: What type of surroundings are present during the main action?
(a) Trees, Plains, Deserts, or Beaches
(b) Alley-ways, Derelict/Abandoned buildings, City Center, or Clubs/Pubs/Raves
(c) Shopping centers/Malls, Schools or Parks
Question 5: Who are the secondary characters?
(a) Work colleagues, Supernatural sources, or Journalists
(c) Villagers, Neighbours, or Family
Question 6: Pick the one that best fits the emotional tone of the main scenes.
(a) Excitement, worry and anticipation
(b) Concern, patience and serenity
Question 7: What level of gore and violence is present?
(a) Implied: the knife swings down behind the curtain and a scream is heard – fade to black.
(b) Gratuitous: blood splattered the wall as she averted her eyes.
(c) Realistic: pressing down into the blood, it was still warm, the viscous sensation meaning he had not been dead long.
Question 8: Which category of motifs is most present in the story?
(a) Werewolves, vampires, monsters, ancient gods, unknown horrors, zombies, ghosts.
(b) Witches, wizards, fantastic beasts.
(c) Fairies, unicorns, giants, kraken, mermaids.
Question 9: How about the sex? What’s that like?
(a) Sensual: he pulled her to him, his mouth a hot brand on her neck…
(b) X-Rated: he thrust his **** into her **** and changed the position of her leg to ****
(c) Sweet: as they kissed the sun sank behind the rise and their love lit up the night sky.
Question 10: Finally, which summary best fits the story overall?
(a) Group of friends are attacked by magical beings.
(b) A hero saves the realm.
(c) Woman defeats supernatural monsters to save the city.
Tally up your answers: 1a=0 b=1 c=2 ; 2a=2 b=1 c=0 ; 3a=1 b=0 c=2 ; 4a=0 b=2 c=1 ; 5a=2 b=1 c=0 ; 6a=1 b=0 c=2 ; 7a=0 b=1 c=2 ; 8a=2 b=1 c=0 ; 9a=1 b=2 c=0 ; 10a=1 b=0 c=2.
Although it might share a common root base with urban fantasy this is decidedly not an urban fantasy. This category also includes if you couldn’t even match one of the three options for a question with this story. Nothing wrong here, just not urban or not fantasy, and definitely not an urban fantasy.
9-14 Fringe Urban Fantasy
Often urban fantasy is used as a label for just generally modern fantasy literature. This means it is set in the real world, or is contemporary with society today, or is in a parallel world with the same level (or better) of technology. It will feature supernatural creatures and magic, and it will have kick-ass heroines and heroes. However, it is not quintessentially an urban fantasy because simply it is leaning more into the fantasy than the urban.
15-20 A True Urban Fantasy
This story is gritty, real and firmly located in the heart of a city. The female lead is facing difficult choices and struggling to find her way in a supernaturally sodden urban landscape. Although different authors will lean into different aspects of the urban fantasy, primarily they will include elements of city life, hardships, the facing of true dangers, realistic and gory violence, and sex that is consensual but often explicit. However, fundamentally it will be an urban drama set in a real city.
Still not sure what an Urban Fantasy story really is? Have a look here: Defining Urban Fantasy