by Jacqui Murray
One of my writing gigs is as an Amazon Vine Voice. They send me free books (and other products) and I share my honest opinion. If you go to Amazon, you’ll find a label (Vine Voice) by my name, as you will with all of the other Vine reviewers. It just means we accept the responsibility to share our thoughts as objectively as possible.
When I log into my Vine account, I find a list of a couple hundred books to choose from. I can pick the genre so I don’t end up reading a travel book when I’d prefer a thriller, but, it’s not an exact science. More often than expected, I’ve been surprised. For example, Richard Bausch‘s fantastic new book that I’d consider more brainwork than I normally subscribe to is included under thrillers–which is usually reserved for plot-driven, non-stop action stories.
This is my long way of explaining how I’ve stumbled on and enjoyed several paranormal novels which normally I would have skipped such as Heather Graham’s Krewe of Hunters series and Carsten Stroud’s Niceville trilogy.
WiseGeek defines paranormal this way:
Paranormal stories encompass elements of the paranormal such as ghosts, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, and any sort of magical or otherworldly creatures. This type of fiction often goes beyond fact and logical explanations to speculate about the things that cannot be seen or proved, such as extrasensory perception (ESP) and alien life.
If you’re a paranormal author or reader, here’s what you’d expect out of your story:
- paranormal is not fantasy, though it may be similar. The characters include ghosts, vampires, psychics–that sort–set in a real-world setting. Here’s a test: If you can remove the paranormal creatures and what remains is a world much like what you see around you, it’s paranormal rather than fantasy.
- create a solid mythology. It doesn’t have to match what the standard opinion of vampires or werewolves is, but it needs to be believable.
- include a strong female lead. From what I understand from my paranormal-writing friends, this is the current trend and a popular one.
- the main character may or may not have supernatural abilities–or they may be hidden–but should include a core of goodness that directs his/her actions.
- include lots of conflict between the supernatural world and the human world.
- the villain is likely darker and more powerful than the main character.
- if you include a romance as a main plot point or subplot, you’re probably writing for the sub-genre, paranormal romance.
If you write paranormal, what would you add to this list? How can I explain it better?
Guest post contributed by Jacqui Murray. Jacqui is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman and is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, and Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers. You can find her book on her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.
Thanks, Jacqui. You nailed it! Pinned & shared. 🙂
Great list! There’s other names for paranormal though, isn’t there? No one ever knows what I’m talking about…
It makes for a great and heart pounding read, Jacqui. I should try this genre and experiment more beyond the sensual romance that I write:)
Jacqui, I know the trend for paranormal these days is to have a female protagonist, but isn’t that being rather prejudice? Are females supposed to be more susceptible to ESP, vampires, werewolves, and whatever? And if so, why would this be? Are females really and truly more sensitive in general? When I ask myself these questions, my answer is No to being more susceptible and more sensitive. Females are just more open about it.
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Hi Jacqui. There is a difference between paranormal and supernatural.
Paranormal is concerned with the extra sensory things like mind-readers and ghost apparitions. Supernatural stories involve ether world elements and creatures like werewolves.
You’re spot on about there being sub-genres one being paranormal romance. Unfortunately there are not enough tags to properly identify the correct type of story one might write. I think we are often misunderstood. Even tags like Horror may be misunderstood as all slasher-stories when in reality there are so many types of horror like zombies, cults, bizarro.
Thanks for the help in clarifying the genre.
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Thanks for the list! Currently, I am writing a paranormal romance book called Love for an Angel (I know, the title isn’t very original). My story includes a female MC who is an angel and the main antagonist is Lucifer.
If I take the angels out of it, then the setting would be the real world. In the second book, a lot of the story will take place on earth.
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This post from Jacqui Murray is a must-read for anyone who dabbles in the paranormal genre (such as myself).
Great tips thank you 🙂
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