I wish I had a scanner :/
I wish I had a scanner :/
Horror is considered a separate genre, but these three genres often overlap.
- Paranormal Romance: Romance with a paranormal element. However, the romance outweighs the paranormal aspect in most cases, but is still an integral part to the story.
- Urban Fantasy: Urban fantasy is often used interchangeably with “paranormal”. It takes place in urban areas and has fantasy, paranormal, or supernatural elements.
- Dark Fantasy: This genre is a cross over between horror and fantasy. It has fantasy and horror elements, but does not focus on them as heavily as other genres. This would be considered paranormal rather than supernatural.
- Gothic Horror: This used to be the name for the horror genre. This genre is not related to the goth fashion style. There are several forms of this genre (English, American, southern) that may involve romance or a sense of being “trapped”. Paranormal creatures (like ghosts and other creatures associated with the afterlife or death) are quite popular in this genre.
See Basic Horror Writing Guide for a general overview and some resources.
There is often a paranormal or supernatural element in horror, most likely some form of ghosts. However, there are also other elements present.
Certain abilities given to humans may fall within this category. This can include telekinesis, clairvoyance, and telepathy, among others. However, these abilities often come secondary to the horror element or the main horror creatures (ghosts, psychological torture, etc.). They should come second if horror is the main aspect of the story. Once these elements become primary, you’ve left the horror genre (primarily).
But, as with horror, including paranormal and supernatural elements must be there to further the thrill, suspense, or horror of the story. With supernatural and paranormal fiction, those elements should be integral to the story.
PARANORMAL VS SUPERNATURAL
This is a personal opinion
Supernatural: Something inexplicable that defies the laws of nature or something that was once a part of nature, only to defy it.
Paranormal: Something that shows signs of being beyond scientific understanding.
As noted in the definitions above, supernatural deals with transformation from the ordinary to the impossible. Paranormal deals with something beyond us, like clairvoyance.
Paranormal fiction tends to be lighter and it often has a romantic feel to it. When I say “romantic”, I do not necessarily mean love, but showing something in a light that makes it better than it actually is. Supernatural fiction tends to fall on the side of gritty horror more often than not.
What falls under each definition depends on who you ask, but abilities (for example, telekinesis) are generally considered paranormal while certain creatures (werewolves and vampires) are considered supernatural.
CREATURES & CLICHES
With this genre comes otherworldly creatures. Right now, the genre is heavy with angels, demons, vampires, and werewolves. While there’s nothing wrong with writing about those creatures, it’s good to expand. After all, supernatural and paranormal are forms of fantasy. You can do anything.
Research some underused creatures and put a new twist on them. Use them as a base for a creature of your own creation. Go nuts with these creatures and make them unique.
They can thrive in one environment and suffer in another. They can be subject to evolution. They can be associated with a certain element or symbol. Give them odd abilities and give them reasons for this. Make up your own mythologies.Yet with the four main creatures mentioned above comes cliches. We’re all sick of them and you should challenge yourself to write outside these cliches, though you can still rework a cliche and make it unique.There is a group of cliches in paranormal romance that stand out from the rest because they are harmful. For example, male love interests who are brooding, possessive, and creepy yet written as desirable.An important point to remember when you’re creating creatures is not to go so far that these become something else entirely. You can’t take away the fundamental characteristics if you’re trying to be unique. That destroys the creature. Your vampires don’t have to sleep in coffins or turn into bats, but you can’t really take away the blood drinking thing, can you? That’s the main characteristic of vampiric creatures (and there are many).More:
- Ten Worst Vampire Cliches
- The A-Typical Vampire
- Supernatural Creatures Inspiration/Definitions
- Vampire Cliches
- Werewolf Cliches
- Werewolf Genre Pet Peeves
- Writing an Overused Supernatural Creature
- Vampire Tropes
- A Guide on Zombies
- Guide to Ghosts
- Describing Fantastic Creatures
- Werebeast Tropes
- Tropes of the Living Dead
- Writing Zombies
- Sea Creatures
- Birds: Mythology
- Cliches in Paranormal Novels
- Is Your YA Paranormal Romance Cliche Enough? (chart)
- Cliches in Paranormal Romance
- Top 13 Paranormal Romance Cliches
- YA Common Cliches: Paranormal Romance
- Overplayed Urban Fantasy Cliche 1 2 3 4
- Fantasy/Urban Fantasy Cliches
- Mythical Creatures List
- Mythical Creatures A-Z
- List of Mythical Creatures
- Magical/Mythical Creatures
Some music to listen to while writing:
Bad Moon Rising | Black River Killer | Blood Circus | Come Little Children | Davy Jones Music Box | Ghost Riders in the Sky | Hell | Hell Hound Blues | Herr Drosselmeye’s Doll | Hotel California | House of the Rising Sun | The Killing Moon | Mr Crowley | Oogie Boogie’s Song | Sympathy for the Devil | This House is Haunted | This is Halloween | Void
- Supernatural Romance
- Books with Angels, Gods, or Demons
- Best Gothic Books of All Time
- Ghost Stories
- Angels & Demons
- Favorite Ghost Stories
- Best Books About Faeries
- Paranormal’s/Urban Fantasies That Don’t Suck
- Haunted Houses
- Paranormal in New Orleans
- Best Gothic Novels/Suspense Novels
- Forbidden Love in Fantasy/Paranormal/Supernatural
- Supernatural and Addictive Fantasy
- Best Shapeshifters
- Books with Supernatural Females
- Bone Chilling Paranormal Romance
- Anything But Vampires
- 19th Century Supernatural Horror
- Gay Horror
- I See Dead People
- Killer Ghost Stories
- Uncommon Supernatural Creatures
- Gothic Paranormal
- Best Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance
- Indie Books - Paranormal Fiction
- Humorous Paranormal Books
- Hot Paranormal Romance
- Werewolf and Shifter Romance
- Paranormal Book Lists
- Not the “Normal” Paranormal
- Literary Fiction Meets Paranormal Romance
- Gay Paranormal Romance
- Lesbian Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
This should be useful for NaNoWriMo this year. I feel possible urban fantasy coming on.
I come bearing links.
- Horror Writers Association
- Writing Tips #162: Writing Horror Stories
- Genre Help: Horror
- 7 Helpful Tips to Writing Good Horror Stories
- Basic Horror Writing Guide
- FYCD ‘horror’ tagMusic/Inspiration
- Songs For Creating Stuff (see: Haunting)
- Music to Influence Your Writing (see: Psychopathic Character/Suspense Scene)
- Rattling Bones
- Violent Delights
Have fun and good luck with your NaNo project!
I am often asked to appraise writers’ manuscripts. I have found that these are the most common problems beginner writers share when they’re creating characters.
1. Cardboard cut-out characters
Give your characters a life. Surround them with evidence of their past, present, and future. Everyday things that happen to them make them human. They should argue with their parents, forget a friend’s birthday, and hope everyone will forgets theirs. They stub their toes, immerse cell phones in water, and lose car keys. All of this must happen while they’re dealing with other people. The reader must see characters as real people. Writers create believable characters when readers are able to identify with them.
2. Overcrowding - Too many characters
Don’t give prime space to minor characters. They simply crowd pages and daze readers. Readers do not want to keep track of characters in a book. Less is always more. This also applies when writing memoirs. Make space for two characters who influence and support your two main characters. Make these characters memorable and quirky. Don’t name characters if they don’t have a significant role to play in your book. Readers do not want to know the name of the waitress, the jogger, the doorman, the receptionist and the sales assistant.
3. Over-writing – Too many words
Everybody does it when describing a character’s thoughts, actions or motivations. You know…The flowery prose, the reaching for descriptive heights, the excessive internal monologue. Good writing means writing clearly and economically. It means using the five senses on every page. Use strong verbs, precise nouns and proper sentence structure. Great writing does not mean lots of words. It especially does not mean lots of big words. Don’t contrive a style. Correct, simple words show everything.
4. Tormented heroes - Too many thoughts, not enough actions
Most new writers spend too much time in their characters’ heads. To make characters human we need to see them act. Make them get up and do things. A character needs to move forward in a story. The reader needs to see him as a person who is in trouble and identify with him. A common mistake occurs when a character reviews actions. And then thinks it through again. This reveals a lack of skill on the writer’s part who feels he has not shown the idea the first time around. Your reader will lose interest if you do this.
5. Lack of Setting - Where am I?
Imagine watching a film where characters live on a blank screen. That is the equivalent of lack of setting in a novel. Show characters in their cars, homes and offices. Use decor, food and medication to define them. To create a believable setting in a novel, characters must see, smell, hear, taste and touch in that setting. Characters can’t respond to surroundings if they don’t have any. Make your characters uncomfortable. Put them in a crowded lift, or a traffic jam. Make sure there is no coffee in the cupboard when they most need it. Give your character a life through setting.
I’m having one of them “low self-esteem” artist days.