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

Earn The Story

The other day, I was watching a movie, and all I could think was the story didn’t earn emotions on the screen. It felt forced. I saw them setting up the blocks, predicted what would happen next, and felt rather disappointed when it did. Every genre has a general formula that if follows. You can’t have a mystery without a red herring or a contemporary romance without a hero/heroine. Regardless, readers and viewers expect some deviation. Writers can’t rely solely on tropes to set the mood throughout a story.

Emotional levels vary. When a character shoots straight from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, skipping all the steps in between, it may feel forced. For example, a character is cheerful one moment and the next instant angered. There are a number of phases in between. Until readers get to know a character’s personality, motivation, goals, etc. this sudden shift may feel jarring and fake.

There are a number of ways to move from one emotion to the other:

cheerful + overwhelmed + isolated + frustrated = angered

cheerful + embarrassed + confused = angered

cheerful + surprised + discouraged + inferior = angered

Once the reader is firmly grounded in the story and character, they’ll understand which emotional change a character is undergoing and it will feel logical and earned.

How about you? What tips do you have for earning a story? Do you have any examples of a story/movie that earns the story?

Thanks for stopping by. This blog wouldn’t be the same without your support.


How to Write A Book


That’s all it takes.

Focus on writing everyday, no excuses because even five minutes of active writing will increase the word count of a book. This may require rising before the sun, or burning the midnight oil, but if that’s what it takes to get hands on the keyboard or pencil/pen to paper, then commit to it. If it’s too difficult to get in touch with the muse early in the morning or late at night, sketch out the scene (or tell) what’s supposed to happen and use it as a guideline to flesh it out (or show) as much as possible during a lunch break, during the train/taxi ride home, or whenever time is available. If it’s a too busy family life that interrupts writing time, create a writing schedule, bargain if necessary so that each partner gets equal free time, even if it’s only half an hour.

Photo by Frank Selmo (frankselmo on Flickr)

When that free time is available, whether or not the muse is talking, make sure each scene has focus. These are the things I aim to include into each scene:

  • Conflict. Gotta have it, otherwise why are people reading the book. The main character (MC) has to have a goal from the very first page. Something is bound to stand in the way. I invite Murphy’s Law to stomp all over my characters life. I love when I’m reading a book and the MC gets backed into a corner from which I can see no way out, yet I know they get out cause there’s still 72 more pages left. In each scene, I focus on making my MC work toward her goal, ensuring the things she need don’t happen to fall into her lap, and amping up the conflict.
  • Character. In order for readers to care about said MC getting out the corner, they need to care about said character(s). I try to fall into my characters. Instead of observing the scene unfold as if watching it on the big screen, I imagine myself in the scene and employ all the senses to make the characters’ reaction to the setting real. I focus on staying in the MC’s POV throughout the scene, and if the POV changes, I add an extra space and stay in the other character’s POV for the remainder of the chapter. Continuous head hopping can be disconcerting.
  • Setting. Have a clear understanding of when and where the story takes place, but don’t try to include everything. Focus on a few select things which breathe life into the setting. There’s always time to build in more elements of the environment in the next scene.

Focus on the endgame. Figure out the common word expectations for the genre/target audience because it’ll be hard to sell a low word count sci-fi novel or a high word count realistic middle grade novel.

Last, focus on having fun and enjoying your characters and the world you’ve built for them.

What do you focus on when writing? What elements do you try to work into your scenes? How do you find time to write?

For a humorous take on How Not To Write A Novel, check out my crit partner’s post here.

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Wordcount Dracula

Now I’m Curious

Last week, I wrote about a relatively new category called New Adult. This term (coined by St. Martin’s Press in 2011) was new to some of you, which left me wondering how much awareness there is about this category. NA books fall between YA and adult books. They tend to focus on people in their twenties who are struggling to figure out what it means to be an adult.

Popular books include: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, Easy by Tammara Webber, Wasteland by Lynn Rush, and Something Like Normal by Trish Doller. According to the NA Alley blog, NA movies include: Legally Blonde (2001), Good Will Hunting (1997), and The Devil Wears Prada (2006).

Goodreads also has a list of popular New Adult books here.

With this in mind, I invite you to take the following poll, whether or not you comment below.  Thanks!

How would you describe this category? Do you have any NA books you’d recommend to others? What draws you to NA books?

BLOG CHAIN–Go Back to the Beginning

Margie started this round of the blog chain with this FANTASTIC question:

How did you come to write your YA genre (e.g. contemp, fantasy, etc.)? AND (yep, it’s a 2 parter), if you weren’t writing that, what genre would you be interested in exploring?

I didn’t start out writing YA paranormal. When I first joined Novel Clique (a critique group) eons ago I thought I was a horror writer. Anyone who knows me can tell you how silly that is, not that I can’t write a spooky story. Who doesn’t like a good ghost story? One of my critique partners told me I wrote romance. That made me think she was silly, but over the years I’ve slowly come to admit she may have had a point. My stories are the mushy or spicy kind — not that there’s anything wrong with it — but they do tend to have a lyrical feeling to them and there’s usually a love interest or unrequited love. I really, really enjoy reading YA paranormal. So, I decided to gi ve it a try and loved it.

I’d also like to explore quiet horror or a thriller. Maybe I’ll give it a try in short story form.

Be sure to check out lbdiamond’s blog from Sunday.

What’s Your Genre?

I love paranormal, both adult and young adult. Even when I try to write a story outside this genre, it always finds its way back. There’s just something about the supernatural that draws me to it. Perhaps, the possibility of the impossible. Vampires, werewolves, witches, sorcerers, faerie… I can’t get enough. Even when they fall off the “Hot” list, I still love ’em. I think that’s where my passion for writing paranormal comes from.

What genre lights your fire? Or are you more of a literary person? Or perhaps, a poet?

Using Different Tools

I must admit, in Chapter 3: Build A Framework for Your Novel’s Pieces, when Smith recommended writing the climax first, I felt skeptical. I’ve always been a “write in the order the voices tell you ” kind of writer. Writing the climax first sounded daunting. How on earth was I going to come up with a climax when I haven’t written a single page of manuscript? But like always, Smith provided guidance, including Ten Elements for A Climatic Scene.  

A scene came to mind and I filled out the Scene Development sheet that comes with the You Can Write A Novel Kit. I checked my scene against the Ten Elements and found #7  (No new material introduced into the climax) and #8 (Lack of Explanation [exposition]) particularly hard for BLINK. There are things that will happen that Lexi (Master Character) won’t understand, that will be contrary to every thing she believed. Smith recommends foreshadowing to avoid introducing new material during the climax and action/dialogue to avoid slowing the pace of the climax with exposition.  

In Step 4 of Chapter 3, I created the opening scene. Again, Smith has a list of things an opening should include. I tore off another Scene Development and completed it as much as I could and much to my surprise, the opening scene and climax have a direct impact on each other just as they should (and despite creating them in opposite order). In the opening scene, Lexi makes a major mistake and in the climax, she has an opportunity to rectify it, but it will costs her. I’m now on Step 6: Write Your Central Story in “Headlines”. This section will help me connect the dots from the opening scene to the climax.