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Incorporating Plausibility in Paranormal Fiction Writing
Sharks in the Pool
If you are familiar with my bio, you know that I am a paranormal fiction writer. What you may not know, however, is that I am very grounded in logic. When I write about unexplained phenomena, I ask myself; "Is this credible?". Readers want goosebumps and they get them when they close a book and think the killer, ghost, or monster could potentially be lurking in the shadows in this world, too.
I was just a little girl when JAWS was released in theaters. After the movie, I was afraid to swim in my pool at night. This phenomena was shared by many and has since been branded the Jaws Effect. This irrational fear was there because I was a child. If I had seen the movie as an adult, I would never make that sort of connection but that's what writer's in this genre need to do. They need to find a formula that will make reader's believe that there could be sharks in the pool.
A Noteworthy Example
In some cases authors hint at real world explanations for the supernatural events that take place in their novels. This is sometimes referred to as placing science in the margins.
In other cases, the inverse is true. For example, Stephen King's, Cujo, a novel about a dog that contracts rabies. On the first page we are introduced to Frank Dodd who is described as the monster that never dies. It is never explicitly implied but many readers were guided subtly to believe that Dodd was the darkness that possessed the dog and caused him to kill.
This concept gains credibility from the fact that Dodd, Cujo, and even some of his victims are referred to or make appearances in future King novels.
Tell us what you think
What turned Cujo from a family dog to a horrific killer
How do you Explain the Unexplained?
The simple answer? You don't. You simply provide a statement of plausibility. In my current book, "Zac's Guitar", a boy has a magic guitar that opens a portal to another dimension. Most of my characters take this at face value. They are happy with the equation and don't delve any further.
For the logical reader to relate, I've added a character who needs a better explanation. He believes that this phenomenon might be explained using concepts derived from theoretical physics.
To go a step further, he also refers to theoretical physics as a way to explain psychic abilities by delving briefly into the theory of Universal Knowledge.
Keep the Possibilites Endless
Every reader wants to feel connected to the story and this is where the paranormal genre too often falls short. You can write a spine chilling masterpiece chock full of gore and readers may enjoy it. But if you want your work to be remembered, you need to make your readers think. I have yet to find a Nightmare on Elm Street discussion group, but there are several groups and blogs dedicated to dissecting works like Cujo. Giving readers multiple dimensions to explore and consider could be the differentiator between being just another writer and being a staple in your genre.