Harry Potter’s battles with Lord Voldemort, Frodo Baggins attempting to transport a ring and the adventures of Merlin. Yes, the fantasy genre has given readers some works of art, and we look forward to the latest offerings from writers. The biggest aspect of fantasy genres is imagination. Fantasy books often incorporate magical and supernatural themes to create an interesting story.
Research from Query Tracker shows that fantasy books are one of the most in-demand genres from agents. People like to get lost in a world, full of possibilities and fantasy books enable us to do that. So, why is fantasy our biggest reality? What is it about the genre that keeps us coming back for more?
We Need to Escape
Life is difficult, and sometimes it gets too much. For some people, fantasy gives us a brief break from the problems we face in reality. Others struggle with their lives and get lost in fantasy because it provides them with the escape they need. We can’t run away from our problems, but we can get lost in great literature. Sometimes, the evil villain provides us with an outlet for getting over a break-up or dealing with problems at work.
Fantasy is a safety net for us, and it gives us the chance to confront danger in a secure setting. An article in Psychology Today shows us why escapism is beneficial in small doses. When life gets too much, people can escape into the magical world of Harry Potter, or read about a hero battling the three eyed monster. It gives us some peace away from the harsh realities of our existence and enables us to deal with negative emotions.
Fantasy is Magical
Remember when you were younger, and the animated Disney characters lit up your world? Whether it’s a talking dog, cat, or alien, we love the magical elements of fantasy. We know it’s not true, but the complex story lines and out of this world characters hold our attention. No matter how much of a realist someone is, we all want to experience some magic in our lives. It’s the reason parents put money under their children’s pillows when they lose a tooth, or why Santa Claus visits our home every year.
Once we hit adulthood, we lose some of this magic. Discovering Santa Claus isn’t real and life isn’t a Disney movie can be a shock to our systems. We have to work, pay bills, look after kids and become responsible, pragmatic adults. So what do most adults do when faced with this inevitable fate? Hit the book store and indulge in the latest fantasy. J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter as a children’s book, but it gained huge popularity amongst the older generations. Game of Thrones is one of the most popular TV shows around. It’s based on the series of books A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin and has a large audience. Demographics show that 18-29-year-olds watch the show more than any other age group. Around 10% more 30 – 44-year-olds watch the show that people under the age of 18. This shows that viewers tune in because they enjoy getting lost in the world of dragons and magic.
We Need a Hero
Look at the most popular fantasy books and you’ll notice one common theme; they all have a hero. In fact, having a strong character is essential to the success of any fantasy book. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, War of the Worlds and many other books all focus the story around an individual battling to do what is right. Why are average people drawn to heroes?
Heroes provide us with a positive view of humanity and inspire us to fight in our own lives. While most of us don’t battle villains every day, we have to deal with problems at work, failing relationships and difficult children. Heros deal with feelings of loss, fright and have to fight against the odds. Everyone struggles to achieve a balance in life and reading about a hero struggling with the same things is comforting. When they overcome the odds and win, we feel like we win.
There are also elements of feeling more confident when we read fantasy novels. Most of the main characters have a power and reading about them makes us feel more powerful. Reading about your favorite hero winning his battle could give you the confidence to shine at that job interview, or ask someone out on a date. Fantasy can also be a passive yet constructive form of therapy. It helps us deal with our inner demons, whilst creating a safe world for us to do so.
Fantasy is Reality
If you’ve read a lot of fantasy books, then you know the heroes journey isn’t smooth sailing. There are plenty of mistakes along the way, which is one reason we relate to the story so much. The hero may have special powers, but that doesn’t protect them from getting hurt, or making the wrong choice. However, there’s always salvation in their choices, and this gives us the most important thing we look for; hope.
When we feel like everything is hopeless, reading about the trials and tribulations of fantasy characters gives us some perspective. Our miserable job or non-existent love life seems like nothing compared to an alien invasion or the world ending. We find hope that our own situation will improve and find the strength to battle through our issues.
In today’s modern world, depression is at its highest rates. The stresses of daily life, and the harsh reality of our financial situations mean many are looking for some form of escapism. Fantasy will continue to provide readers of all ages with all the courage, strength and resilience they need.