I’ve tried a few times to write urban fantasy. I find it less than fun even when I like my idea/character/etc. I recently was re-reading something I had written (in this genre) and reached the “damn, I wish I had finished this – I want to read the ending!” (of which there isn’t one) point. It made me start thinking about other urban fantasies.
I see there being two styles to urban fantasy. There is the “Harry Potter” style where the magical and the “real” world never meet – and so there is this idea that WE are just “missing” what’s there. I think most urban fantasy seems to fall into this side – Dresden Files, City of Bones, etc. The protagonist finds out or was raised in a world with magic. It collides with the “real world” somehow (usually) and their attempt to be “normal” OR to escape “normal” people. IE, Harry would do anything not be like the Dursleys…. (escape)
Then there is the “semi-real” urban fantasies where it takes the ideas of our world but adds in magic. No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished is in this style. Honestly, I think I would put the Discworld series here too – as much as Pratchett writes with horses and swords – he writes about trains and telegraphs too. In these worlds, everyone knows about magic and dragons and elves. But we still have cars and tvs and things. They might be magical instead or not. It blends the fantastical into the everyday world and usually the plot is more of a “normal” fiction – romance or mystery or what-have-you.
Thinking over the urban fantasy I’ve written and consumed, I have only ever written the former kind (either the magical invading the world-as-we-know-it OR hiding-magic-from-our-world) BUT I’ve enjoyed the latter more. It doesn’t solve my problem of a story I want the end of, since it was a “magic coming back into the world” sort of PLOT. It DOES tell me that when I want to approach urban fantasy (if I ever do again) I might have better success if I just let the dragons and elves in instead of trying the “oh the cops don’t know” type of world building.