Writing for the Paranormal: Part Two

In order to create a paranormal novel, the paranormal aspect must be central to the plot, without it the entire plot would unravel. Take the wizard out of Harry Potter and you get a boy sent to boarding school. As I understand it, the paranormal aspect is simply something that is super-normal–something that seems normal on the outside, but has extra features so to speak, like magic, or super-human strength.

What better way to create something paranormal that is central to the plot than a paranormal character? Vampire? Werewolf? Abomination? Wizard? You bet. Many novels, and movies, have these types of characters, without which the plot becomes meaningless.

So today’s challenge was to create a paranormal creature. I have already created several of these for my novel. While I have no intention of revealing the main creature on which the novel rests, I will share a different creature that also plays a role, minor though it may be.

Creating a creature/character is much like creating a paranormal object. The creature must have strengths that pushes it beyond the human and normal. But it must also have weaknesses. Does the creature have superpowers? Which ones and how are they used? What does it look like?Does this power weaken it? Can it be killed? How? Does it have natural enemies?

One type of creature that makes insinuates itself in my novel is the demon. There is one specific character that starts the action, so a bit more integral than I was originally thinking.

Demons are shape-changers. They have a human shape and their natural shape. Much like superman, they are stronger, faster, and hardier than normal humans. Their senses are also sharper than the average human. Some are more powerful than others, and their powers come from different sources. They cannot be born, but are created by absolute corruption.

While in human form, they can look like anyone, that is how they go about their business of corruption. In their natural shape they have a thick brown hide, often resembling predatory animals, and exhibit animalistic behavior (for example, those resembling wolves will travel in packs, many fight each other for the kill).

They are denser, and bloodless, so traditional weapons don’t harm them. They can be dissolved in acid. Their natural enemy is the angel, of course. And their biggest weakness is that the majority are unable to act of their own will. Those with free will are far more deadly than those without.They are, however, killing machines. In addition to being faster, stronger, and hardier, they are thrown in fighting dens to weed out the weak.

I thought of the scariest things I could, and tried to make it scarier. I certainly hope I succeeded. What do you think?



Filed under Writer's Digest 30 Day Challenge, Writing

10 responses to “Writing for the Paranormal: Part Two

  1. I thought it might be worth pointing out that the word “Paranormal” these days, in the writing world, carries a strong connotation of suggesting the “Paranormal Romance” genre category specifically – you know, the genre that got a huge boost in the public consciousness by the Twilight series? Maybe you already know that, but it seemed like you were using the word to suggest a catch-all descriptor of the “supernatural”, which technically the word does mean that, but since you’re a writer, I thought it might be useful to know the genre connotation, in case you wanted to be specific about the genre you were targeting.

    • I was kinda using as a catch-all as anything supernatural on this world. I am also aware of the connotation. Which I feel is wrong in all sorts of ways. Just because it’s paranormal does not make it romance and vice versa. Not that that had to be said. So my question for you would be, what would you classify the paranormal that isn’t romance? What overarching genre would you give it? Certainly not fantasy.
      Every genre has sub-genres and cross genres. Romance has historical romance. Paranormal has paranormal romance. I was speaking to mother genre, if you will. Twilight still wouldn’t be Twilight without the vampires.

  2. Actually, yes, I would classify it as Fantasy being the “mother” genre. Because the classical definition of Fantasy is the genre whose major thematic element is the inclusion of the supernatural, the paranormal, the mystical, the magical, the divine, the numinous, or the mythological. If you’ve got that, no matter what else, what you have is a Fantasy. But Fantasy breaks down into so many, many sub-categories. Paranormal Romance, for instance, is a cross-over category between the Romance genre and Fantasy (especially, these days, the sub-genre called “Urban Fantasy”, making Paranormal Romance a sub-sub-genre, technically speaking). Fantasy also encompases High Fantasy (the traditional secondary, medeival-esque world), Epic Fantasy (the other traditional mode for Fantasy, which has a lot of cross-over and joint-territory with high Fantasy), Magical Realism, Steampunk Fantasy, Urban and Contemporary Fantasy, Door Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, and so on and so forth.

    (A writing compadre, T.S. Bazelli, has been working on a “genre definition” project on her blog, http://www.tsbazelli.com/blog/2010/03/the-sff-genre-glossary-project-index/ here, if you’re intersted in seeing someone else’s take on the subject.)

    • oops… Can you fix my broken html? There should be a greater-than sign after “sff-genre-glossary-project-index/”” and before the word “here”.

      • Okay, you’ll have to do better than that to explain what to do. I thought I did it right, and it erased it completely so I copied and googled from this one, found her site and pasted it there.

    • But what about UFO’s; the X-Files, as T.S. Bazelli brought up, where does it go? Or to quote her “So, let’s say I were to write a story about ghosts, but decide not to include any romance or magic. How would that be categorized…Is there a hole in the genres here or is there’s just no market for what I have proposed (and hence, no category)?” She lumps it under Fantasy, but then admits that alot of UFOs gets lumped in the SF genre. I would actually argue that SF and F should be subgenres of Paranormal. Because Paranormal can include elements from both, and the denotation of paranormal is anything that cannot be explained by science. Fantasy, as a genral rule, does not include UFOs or aliens, whereas the Paranormal does.
      Of course the whole genre thing looks remarkably like an inbred family. My cousin is also my mother.

      • I shove everything into a super-genre: “Speculative Fiction”. Everything that is SF&F is speculative fiction. In days gone by, all of SF&F were referred to simply as “Science Fiction”, but the hard-sci-fi nuts eventually objected to having wishy-washy fantasy categorized in the same group. The thing is, the fandom has such a large cross-over, the two will always be grouped together. Thus, Spec Fic. So, if your work is pure-paranormal (no romance), then it bends toward the “Fantasy” side, as per my original explanation: anything mystical or magical or mythological or otherwise bizarre or unreal is “fantastic” by nature. If you’re throwing in UFOs, but no ghosts… that’s some type of Sci-fi. If you’re doing both? Well… it’s a flavor of “spec fic”. Maybe it’s not Sci-fi. Maybe it’s not fantasy. (Although I personally have no problem with aliens and UFOs romping around in my Fantasy. I don’t see imaginary aliens as being any more intrinsically sci-fi than fantasy, because they’re just as unreal as magic.)

        So, at the end of the day, the lines between the genres are a bit fuzzy. Because there is so much cross-over in the readership between the various spec fic genres. And there may indeed be some “holes”, where there is no pre-existing category label, but where some tropes may yet congregate. For me, I do think the idea of a super-genre that encompasses all of SF&F is a well-founded idea… and although I am perfectly capable of nit-picking what goes in what genre, ultimately I consider it an academic exercise… fun while it lasts, but doesn’t really matter, because I’ll still read (and write) any spec fic that I think I’ll enjoy. I’m not a genre purist, in actual practice.

  3. I tend to think of paranormal in the catch-all way, as well, and it does frustrate me how narrowly the term is used/thought of nowadays. This is the reason I’ve shirked from labeling my WIP as “paranormal” because it doesn’t have vampires and werewolves and isn’t what you’d normally think of when the term “urban fantasy” comes up. It has a postindustrial urban setting throughout most of the story, but it’s not set in the modern-day world.

    I’m settling with the label “fantasy,” which has its own plethora of connotations, though it could generally be considered speculative fiction. (And I think that’s where something like The X-files might fit in nicely without rubbing up against any unintended connotations. It generally seems to be regarded as science fiction, among other things, though that, too, fits under the larger “speculative fiction” umbrella.)

    Btw, DW, I think your demons sound very scary! I sure wouldn’t want to meet one, lol. I’m wondering, though, who in your story controls most of them if they don’t typically act on their free will? A bigger demon? The Devil? (Of course, I don’t really expect an answer because that could very well be an element of your story you don’t yet wish to reveal. Still, it does have that mystery to it!)

    • I have fluctuated on what exactly I’m labeling my Work in Progress. The idea that spawned this work is from Judaic mythology, although I’ve tampered with those ideas to suit my needs–and I would never label it religious in any sense of the word. I’ve been leaning toward fantasy, but there is no real magic. Although I do have angels, demons who have supernatural powers.
      You would be right in assuming I don’t yet want to reveal who controls all the demons, as that is the major enemy in my Work in Progress. I’m glad you find the demons scary, I worked fairly hard on that point.

  4. Pingback: Girl Fight – Part 2 « Shadow Creatures By Aliya Leigh

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