How could you tell the difference between an urban fantasy protagonist and a horror protagonist? The answer may depend on how the character would react if an uncanny supernatural being shows up and attacks him.
Greg Cox, author of the recent Star Trek novel Child of Two Worlds and an upcoming tie-in novel for The Librarians, posted an insightful comment on io9 explaining the difference between the two genres:
It sometimes seems to me that the main difference between urban fantasy and horror is simply a matter of competency. Urban fantasy characters generally take vampires and zombies in stride and react as competently as the reader would like to think they would do in similar straits.
Horror characters, on the hand, tend to freak out, panic, doubt their sanity, make unwise decisions,, or even descend into gibbering madness—which is probably the more realistic approach!
I know people who simply don’t get or can’t tolerate horror because they expect the protagonists to be as matter-of-fact as, say, Buffy when dealing with weird paranormal threats.
THEY: “Well, why don’t they just go out and buy some silver bullets instead of freaking out over their werewolf issue?”
ME: “Because horror is not about problem-solving. It’s about fear and guilt and madness and darkness, not competence. And, honestly, most normal people would not behave rationally when confronted with an actual ghost or succubi.”
Yes, this is a debate I’ve had many times.
So what do you think? Do you think there are other elements that define each genre? Could a horror protagonist be as competent when it comes to dealing with supernatural monsters? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.