Paranormal Tropes


Photo Credit: PyroSikTh

Yesterday, one of my critique partners, Dawn Allen, wrote a post on our group blog titled Finding Your Genre. She touched on the basic genres: paranormal, sci-fi, mystery, suspense-thriller, romance, fantasy, historical, and contemporary. To read her post, click here.

Today, I’ll be discussing paranormal and paranormal romance tropes, or certain elements which often appear within these genres. Paranormal stories revolve around supernatural beings such as vampires, zombies, werewolves, angels, ghosts, goblins, dragons shifters, etc. It also encompasses humans who possess otherworldly abilities such as clairvoyants, super-human strength or speed, mind readers, or (excuse the shameless plug for my debut novel 🙂 ) a girl who can trigger earthquakes, etc.

Common themes which appear in paranormal and paranormal romances:

  • Reluctant vampires, or characters who experience difficulty with The Change
  • Possession by demon, alien, ghost, etc.
  • Chill of being watched/stalked by something unknown
  • Character who possess a natural scent which allures the opposite gender, sometimes to distraction
  • Crazy clairvoyants
  • Communication from beyond the grave, through mirrors, phones, TVs, etc.
  • Characters who hate each other when they first meet, but are inseparable by the end of the story
  • Arrogant heroes who meet reality
  • Feeble heroines who discover they possess supernatural powers
  • A journey from this world to another realm

As a paranormal and paranormal romance reader, I enjoy watching characters experience and/or fight to overcome the obstacles and situations above. I love it when I think I know what’s going to happen next, and then BAM! Something unexpected happens.

Can you think of other tropes used in this paranormal/paranormal romance?

Be sure to visit Leatrice McKinney’s blog on Tuesday (1/29) to see what she has to say about sci-fi and fantasy tropes. Dawn Allen will post about horror  and mystery tropes on her blog next Thursday (1/31).

Also, there’s still time to sign up to join the Let’s Get Organized blog hop. I’m planning to add guest post, book reviews, and book tours to my blogging schedule. Find the Linky list at the bottom of this post to join the fun.

Other Resources

Slow Reveal

One of the things I love about having a writer’s critique group is the learning opportunities it provides. I learn by reading the work of my CPs, through them critiquing my work, and through critiquing them. I’ll be the first to admit some of the things they suggest to help me strengthen my work are things I already know. Every now and then I’ll let a passive sentence slip by when it can easily be converted to an active one. Sometimes, I don’t dig deep enough because writing can feel like frothing egg whites by hand. It takes concentration, dedication, and by the end you ache from the effort.

Photo credit: Jon Rieley-Goddard aka baldblogger’s photostream

During a recent review of my current WIP Dark Intent, an adult paranormal romance, one of my CPs busted me on this very thing. My main character has a severe fear of the dark. I established my MC’s distress by showing her emotional/physical reaction to darkness. After watching her internal struggles for a while and not understanding the root cause, her responses lost impact. To avoid ‘info dumping’, the source of her terror must come out in bits and pieces.

The ground work for this was already there, I just didn’t dig deep enough. My CP helped me see how I could use the existing framework to strengthen my story. She recommended I go back to all those places where my MC attempts to confront her fear and reveal snippets of the inciting incident of her anxiety. Nothing major, just incomplete glimpses because in the dark, its often the thing we can’t fully see which scares us the most. It took my story from ‘can relate’ to ‘now I have goosebumps’.

Have you come across something similar in your writing/revising/editing process? Do you have any tips on slow reveals? Do you have character(s) coping with phobia?

The Voices Told Me To Write It


If other writers are anything like me, they write what characters tell them to write and don’t always immediately understand why things unfold the way they do. This happened with my current adult paranormal WIP, which is 87% complete. I knew my human heroine possessed otherworldly abilities, yet I didn’t know where those powers stemmed from, only the cost she paid for using them. I also knew her fate was tied to the immortal hero’s and that their first encounter would change both of them fundamentally.

It wasn’t until my critique partners (CPs) Dawn Allen and L.L. McKinney sent a tidal wave through my WIP that I fully understood how deep the characters’ connection ran. Immortals have a lot of history to sift through. Sometimes, its tough to decide which part of their past is pertinent to the current plot. I knew something major in my hero’s past was coming back for him and that it was somehow connected to the heroine. My CPs helped me dig deeper with the hero to learn how his actions in the past could affect the heroine centuries later.

The fun part? The foundation for our discovery was there all along. The new information we uncovered fell into place like lost puzzle pieces.

I LOVE my CPs, which includes Nicole MacLaughlin who meets with us once a month. They are my girls and without them, I don’t know where my writing would be. They challenge me to push harder, dig deeper, stay true to my characters, etc.  We don’t always agree with one another, but when we do…magic! And goosebumps.

Have you experienced and “AH!” moment in your writing? Do you push yourself to dig deeper? How do you know when you’ve gone deep enough? Do you have awesome CPs you want to give a shout out to?


Balancing Critique Feedback

I have multiple critique partners. Four I meet with in person, one via Skype, and three online. They have varying backgrounds and critique methods. Getting feedback from so many people can get overwhelming. For me, the best way to digest input is to search for common denominators. Chances are if multiple people say the same thing doesn’t work for them, it needs revision. Sometimes, the critiques contradict one another. In those cases, I ask clarifying questions of my partners to figure out why they made a certain comment and weigh their answer against what I was trying to accomplish in the scene.

Right now, my partners are reviewing my YA paranormal dystopia Edge of Truth. It’s new to some of them, others have seen many drafts already. I think the recent version below is fun and shows Rena’s (Main Character) personality.

The first page then:

With a grip on a gnarled stick, Rena Moon trampled across the rocky terrain. The mountain’s shadow offered no relief from the afternoon heat, nor did the slight breeze. Sweat dampened clothes clung to her back and frizz sprang up along her hairline.

“Maybe I should change my last name to Canyu. Rena can you get water? Rena can you help the twins…? Rena can you…can you…can you…” She spun to face her best friend, Blaze. “And if Anata thinks she’s going to make me go to Solstice after what happened last year?”

“I know, but can you slow down a little?” Blaze slipped on a rock, but caught her balance before she fell.

Rena slowed. “I told you to pick up a walking stick. It’s not breaking a Conservation Law if the branch is already dead on the ground.”

“Keep it down,” Blaze whispered. “It’s bad enough we already broke one law today. I don’t know why I let you talk me into this.”

“We’re at least eight miles from the cities. The Synbots don’t patrol here.” The thought of the synthetically created robots in the Badlands made Rena cringe. She needed a break from the confines of the stupid laws they enforced every minute of the day.

“I don’t want to miss curfew. How long will it take to get home?” Blaze asked.

“I’m never going back to Dumpden.”

Blaze staggered. “Well, there’s nowhere else for people like us to go. Are you sure they can’t track us here?”

After compiling feedback from my critique partners, I found a few common denominators. The first line is descriptive and not much of a hook and the MC’s BFF sounded a little whiny. Also, having so many critique partners gives me the opportunity to learn from them as well. Often times, we are able to identify issues with each other’s work which we can turn around and apply to our own.

For example, one of my partners was working on a YA paranormal, only nothing supernatural happened in the first chapter. Even though my main character demonstrates her power by page four, I wanted to work it in sooner. Plus, I had a long talk with myself about why I liked the second half of the book better than the first. The answer was simple: Nevan. So, I revised the opening to demonstrate Rena’s paranormal ability quicker, bring in her love interest sooner, and introduce her BFF in a more likable light.

The first page now:

Rena Moon wished she could swap places with the water bottle, held tight and pressed to Nevan’s lips. Or even the sunlight peeking through the trees, tracing the contours of his face.

“Come on,” she said to her best friend Blaze. “Let’s move closer.”

“Why are you whispering?  It’s not like he can hear us from here.”


“We’ll have a better vantage point from over there.” Blaze pointed to a shaded spot five trees to the left. “It’s just outside his peripheral vision, which means we can stand closer to him. Maybe even within hearing range.”

“Loving your attention to detail.” She tucked her fingers beneath her rucksack strap and strolled toward the tree, all the while stealing glances at Nevan.

“Sweet Mother Earth,” Blaze nudged Rena’s shoulder, nearly knocking her off balance in excitement. “They’re gonna do it again. He’s picking up the spoons.”

“Wha…?” Transfixed, she watched his biceps flex as he shifted and rested his forearms against the table edge.

After a quick glance down both sides of the bench, he nodded, once, twice, three times. Someone tapped a set of cups against the table, creating a deep, resonant beat. Nevan joined in, drumming the spoons and knocking his wrist in perfect rhythm to bring the music alive. The combined sounds pulsated through the ground. Rena honed her ability on the vibrations Nevan produced. Every tap thrummed through her, uniting her with his song on a level no one else knew about or could even understand. They tugged her toward him, as if he’d attached a melodic tether to her and was intent on reeling her in.

Reaching out to other writers for help and sharing knowledge about the craft can be an enriching experience. Our job as writers, is to examine the feedback we receive, decide what fits with our goals for our story, and put in the time to make the revisions.

Do you have more than one critique partner? How do you balance the feedback?