Writing...How To Write Paranormal Romance- 7 Tips To Remember
What is paranormal romance?
As a sub-genre of the romance novel, the paranormal romance stands out using the classic element of the romance story board, with a twist of speculative fiction in the form of the scientifically unexplainable.
Touching on themes ranging from fantasy, science fiction and horror, with its roots firmly in a gothic past, paranormal romance is now more mainstream with characters ranging from human to vampires, ghosts, lycans (shape shifters) witches, demons and more.
One of the most common traits of paranormal romance is the blending of the "real" world with that of a supernatural or fantastical. The growing romance is generally but not always between a human and an "other" (vampire, werewolf, etc.)
but paranormal romance can cover more than just the obvious, Time travel adventures with a romantic plot, human physic’s, Ghosts and even affairs with aliens can fall under this genre.
What is paranormal romance to you?
Award winning paranormal romance author Christine Feehan
"To me, paranormal is something out of the ordinary. Something extraordinary. When I pick up a book that is paranormal, I know I'm in for a surprise. It might be another world or a ghost or a shapeshifter, it might be the occult or the magic of legends. The one and only thing I will know for certain when I open that book is that it will be different. I love that element of surprise and I'm always willing to go where the author takes me. They won't all be perfect, but there will be something there, something magical that will transport me to the world of the extraordinary. That's what paranormal means to me personally."
Award winning paranormal romance author Sherrilyn Kenyon
"Define "Paranormal", eh? Well, the Webster's dictionary defines paranormal as "not scientifically explainable". In publishing, the term has come to mean anything "other" than normal (brides, babies, cowboys, dukes, rakes, pirates). For publishing purposes Paranormal is a blanket term that covers an entire range of not necessarily related types of stories. Futuristic and SF romance and all sorts of fantasy romance, -- time travel, angels, devils, fairies, vampires, reincarnation, psychics, etc -- are published under the label of paranormal. Me, I call it "The Weird Stuff" with pride, and get a great kick out of reading and writing"
Writing Paranormal Romance fiction.
The romance Genre is one of the biggest and most popular out of all the genres in fiction.
And at the moment the Genre of paranormal romance is experiencing its highest popularity in its history. This means two things to us as romance writers.
1. That the editors of a lot publishing companies are looking for these themed stories.
2. There is a lot of competition in this genre, be it in teen romance or mature readers a lot of writers are now angling their writing to this genre.
So there a few things we writers need to focus on to make sure that our writing not only fits the genre, but is as strong as we can make it.
By finding originality in your writing, creating a solid believable mythology and creating strong characters with realistic conflicts to overcome and you will find yourself well and truly on the path of completing your paranormal novel
7 Tips To Writing Paranormal Romance
1. Originality in your writing
In a genre where the competition is so high, your paranormal romance needs to be as original as you can make it. Follow the rules of the romance genre, but create an original concept.
One of the reasons that Ann Rice, was so popular when she was first discovered was that her vampires where different, for a start, her story p.o.v was given from the vampires take on the world and what was happening. It worked very well for her, as not many authors had taken that approach at that time.
This same concept is needed today. Read what is being published, know the genre first and then make your plot as original as you can.
2. Mythology-create a solid mythology
When dealing with paranormal there a lot of things that we all know about some critters. Like Vampires don’t do sunlight and werewolves are allergic to silver, but the joy of fiction is that we as authors are gods of our worlds and the mythology created within our plots.
We can rewrite our vampires completely as Sherrilyn Kenyon did in her dark hunter series or Stephanie Myer with the twilight books. Both authors gave new views on an old idea, while touching only lightly on the traditional vampire lore.
No matter what your paranormal story is about take the time to write the mythology of your vampires, werewolves or whatever else has taken your fancy. Create a file filled with information, make it as detailed as you can.
Where did they come from?
What powers do they have?
How many of them exist in the world?
What sort of society do they have?
How do they hide from normal humans/mortals?
What laws do they have?
How do they survive?
Do they as a species have any natural enemies?
Sometimes you will find that you won’t need to use all the information that you gather, but by writing it out and researching it fully you be able to add layers to your supernaturals that may even surprise you.
this file or notebook, will be invaluable to you as a writer, you will find yourself returning to it again and again updating it and using it as way to keep your story and characters consistent.
note, sometimes less information is more, when dealing with the paranormal, so many readers have their own ideas on what supernatural's are and what they can do, so by simply touching on your changes or mythology they may fill in the rest themselves.
A great site to check out on this is
- How Much of My World Do I Build | Workshops
Website of novelist, author, and instructor Holly Lisle
3. A strong Female heroine.
A trend that I am happy to see growing is the stronger female lead, often just as skilled as the hero with talents that compliment his. The strong female lead doesn’t have to a ball busting werewolf, to be a strong character. She can be anything from a high school student to shy store keeper, but to be a strong feminine lead, she needs to be able to challenge the hero, to surprise him and possibly be the one who saves him in the end.
The paranormal romance gives our heroine a little bit more room to move then other genres, it is for example more acceptable for your strong female character to act more aggressively (werewolf or not) she can be cunning and downright ruthless, as long as it’s for a good cause. (Protecting a loved one, hunting down a killer etc.)
Strong doesn’t always mean physically buff, it can be her personality, her talents her choices in hard situations, how she deals with the conflict around her.
If you make your female lead a physically fit, capable, ball busting modern chick, don’t forget to keep her feminine with all the vulnerabilities of the rest of us have, keep her identifiable, a good example of this is Joss Weddons Buffy character, savior of mankind strong and physically able to best most super naturals in an arm wrestle yet so very vulnerable when it came to her love life and family, with all the insecurities of the next girl.
The damsel in distress still has its place in paranormal romance, but by growing such a character into a stronger personality you may hold your readers interest longer, personal growth is sometimes need to overcome some conflicts in life and this can be a great tool in your writing.
Tips for writing a strong female character
Write out her full history, from childhood to the start of your novel, the events in our lives shape us as individuals and the same is true with your characters. Make notes, short stories or interviews about the major defining events in her life. write out any fears they may have, personality flaws and quirks, don’t forget their skills and abilities , you will find her forming more and more in your mind which will translate directly to your writing.
(Keep this with your files and notes so that you can add to it as you write your novel it can be a fabulous resource.)
Be your characters, all writers endeavor to do this to some point with their characters, but to write truly convincing characters, you must feel the moment in the books and use your own experience no matter how embarrassing or ugly then you can add a new level of depth and realism to your character, which your readers will respond to.
3. Weak can become strong
even the strongest ball busting character has vulnerabilities, don’t be afraid to show your strong heroine having a moment a weakness, it’s through these moments that true inner strength can be found, barriers lowered and honesty reached.
don’t forget to keep her feminine with all the vulnerabilities of the rest of us have, keep her identifiable, a good example of this is Joss Weddons Buffy character, savior of mankind strong and physically able to best most super naturals in an arm wrestle yet so very vulnerable when it came to her love life and family, with all the insecurities of the next girl.
Well balanced characters are needed no matter the genre that you are writing for, don’t be afraid to give your character’s some flaws, no one is perfect but that is the beauty of love is it not?
The paranormal romance hero can be a brooding vampire with intense eyes, or he could be a beautiful fallen angel, but there are a few factors that need to be remembered when writing your paranormal hero
Generally speaking the paranormal hero is good looking if not drop dead gorgeous, he can be ugly but there MUST be something about him that instantly draws the female lead to him, and lust is a great motivator (even when we don’t want it to be)
Give your hero some solid sex appeal, don’t be shy creating the attraction for reader and heroine alike. It’s one of the reasons so many people read paranormal romance, happy to lose themselves in a sexy escape from their everyday lives.
More often than not the hero himself is of some supernatural or paranormal bend, adding to his dark charm and mystery. But no matter how dark your hero is, there should be some deep inner good that the heroine sees.
The hero should rarely be cruel, unless unusually pushed and should always overcome any compulsion in the long term. Even if your hero starts out evil, the violence he commits should be understood by the reader, empathy is hard to create for your romantic hero if your reader doesn’t like him.
The hero should only be really violent to protect those weaker than themselves or defense of himself. If he is taking the initiative and leading an attack it should for some greater good, he is after all meant to be the hero.
- How to Write Great Characters
Great characters must have two main components.
5. Conflict and villains
Conflict is a big part of any story but even more so when writing paranormal romance.
From the common conflicts of two personalities, dealing with the supernatural world and the conflict of events it can be a busy time for the characters of your novel. But without conflict, your reader has no motivation to see what happens next and may lose interest in your story.
Types of conflict
this is the personal side of your story, take away the events and the supernatural elements and you are still left with two people trying to work out a relationship, to see if what they feel is real and dealing with the personal consequences of what it means.
This conflict arises from their differences in worlds and perceptions, be it a human meeting a vampire, or an angel falling in love with demon. The situation may be unpleasant to them or others, it may be more than one of them can accept. The possibilities go on...
Event conflict can bring the two characters together against their will in first place, forcing two sworn eneimes to work together or tearing characters apart.
This sort of conflict is external and the characters have no real control over these events that happen, they can only react and do their best to overcome the situations that are thrown at them. Generally having to find a way to work together to win the day
Villains in paranormal romance are a great way to introduce conflict on few different levels, depending on the motivations of your bad guy.
The villain is generally darker and more powerful than the hero; he is more violent, seductive and cruel. Generally willing to do and kill whatever he has to, to achieve his goal.
He is the symbol of the evil that your characters struggle against, his defeat generally heralding the beginning of a happy ending.
By using conflict, you provide yourself with several plot starters, and ways to keep your story moving, it is a vital tool that should never be underated.
When writing the violence for your paranormal romance never lose sight of your target audience, most romance readers these days don’t mind violence, if it fits the scene. Gore and blood should only be used if it adds to the scene, to the message you are trying to convey. Be careful with its use so it adds to the story not distracts.
When writing your violence for your paranormal romance, sometimes less is more.
Imply where you can and save for the full description for the major important moments of the scene. Your reader has an imagination and sometimes it can fill in the spaces even better than you may expect
7. still needs a happily ever after
Even though you’re writing about supernatural themes, keep in mind that you are writing romance, and a key element of romance is the happily ever after ending. By the end of your novel, despite whatever hardships and adversity your characters have experienced and overcome the reader still wants to know that everything worked out in the end. That the characters are more deeply in love than ever and that their future looks bright.
A new trend occurring more often than not is the happily ever after for now, ending, where the reader knows there will be another book to follow on, but still gets the well rounded happy ending at the end of book one . Even knowing that more trouble will come the characters are strong in their relationship, ready for whatever comes their way, there needs to some tangible foreseeable future for the two love birds to be together to keep the readers of romance interested.
For more on elements needed in romance, check out my article
So many genres now come under the heading of romance,
If your unsure what genre your novel falls under then it's a great idea to go to some publishers websites and read their guidelines, most have a submission page that you can view easily.
I've added a link below to give you an idea on some of these websites
happy writing :)
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