Writing the Paranormal -- Esri Rose
Paranormal covers a lot of ground these days. Werewolves, vampires, spaceships, time-travel, psychics, witches, ghosts, and my own favorite…elves. Like someone accepting an Oscar, I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone. It’s a hot market, so you won’t have to worry about there not being enough entries for the category. Instead, worry about entering pronto.
The Golden Heart guidelines merely specify that the paranormal elements are an integral part of the plot. In fact, paranormal is so inclusive, it’s easier to tell you what doesn’t make for a good paranormal romance than what does.
Why do people read paranormal? Because it’s surprising. There are plenty of vampire books out there, but they all have their twists. It’s the twists that keep us coming back for more vampires (that, and all that…penetration). Ideally, you write paranormal because you enjoy the exotic details of dress, custom and physical differences, or because you think guys with pronounced canines are dead sexy, or because you enjoy seeing how an ad exec deals with Regency men.
Debra Holland, another Noodler finalist in paranormal, has this to say: “I suggest keeping a file or notebook containing the words you made up, the types of plants, animals, transportation, aliens, and anything else you'll need to keep track of. Sometimes you'll find yourself unexpectedly writing a series, and that notebook will come in handy!”
Make it detailed, and make it consistent. The same rules that help your heroine should also hinder her. Magic is all well and good, but it shouldn’t serve as a plot crutch. If you pull a new paranormal trick out of the bag whenever your heroine gets in a tight spot, your readers won’t believe she’s really in trouble, and narrative tension will fly out the window like a cute lil’ dragon. Which brings us to…
If a book goes along with nary a special effect, only to have an angel/talking dog/magic necklace solve the problem at the very last, that’s not a paranormal book. That’s a bad book.
Too Little Romance
Paranormal probably has more leeway than most GH romance categories in this respect. Still, Michael Crichton probably wouldn’t win a pretty necklace. Noodler and paranormal finalist Theresa Ragan has this to say: “I personally would not consider a time-travel with a mere kiss at the end to be a romance. If the hero and heroine haven’t met within the first 50 pages or one of the main characters disappears for a few chapters, I’m not going to be a happy camper.”
And Noodler Colleen Gleason, author of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, says, “If the paranormal element is an integral part of the plot, it can go in the paranormal category--but it doesn't have to. My books would be in the SRE category, even though they are paranormal.” Like other romance categories, paranormal still requires a happily-ever-after ending for your two protagonists.