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Paranormal Romance Writing: The Supernatural and Magical Creatures
 
 
Paranormal Romance Writing: The Supernatural, Magical Creatures
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Supernatural settings, themes, and characters are a great draw for the paranormal romance reader.

For now, let us concentrate on the characters. The supernatural and magical characters in paranormal-themed romances include:

  • shape-shifters;

  • werewolves;

  • vampires;

  • faes;

  • witches;

  • changelings.

    Shape-shifters

    Shape-shifters, or lycans, have the ability to change into the shape of other people, creatures, and other entities. They can change shape voluntarily or involuntarily. If the shape-shifter changes shapes voluntarily, it usually is caused by its own will or perhaps by an act of magic, such as spells, magic words, magic objects, etc. Involuntary changes are usually caused by a curse; a spell; a third party, such as a wizard, a deity, or a fairy; or a temporal state, such as the character falling into true love or being affected by a full moon.

    Famous shape-shifters in paranormal stories include Dracula, who changes into a bat and a wolf, and more recently Sam Merlotte from television's True Blood.

    Shape-shifters often serve a purpose in the overall theme of your story. One famous example of the shape-shifter is Satan. In many stories, Satan is portrayed as a mortal telling people what they want to hear, tempting them in various ways before showing his true self. This was a plot device used to get to the moral of the story or to move the story along.

    Additionally, in stories such as those in the Shrek movie series, ogres change into beautiful people in order to prove the story's point: Beauty is only skin deep.

    If you decide to use shape-shifters in your novel, you need to work out the pieces of the story for yourself. What will happen to the characters when they change shape? Will it be like the characters in the Harry Potter series? Author J.K. Rowling allows her characters to shift shape and wrote that a wizard who became a rat had a rat's brain, illustrating one of the potential logical dilemmas of this fantasy genre. However, Rowling devised the "Animagus talent" to bypass this problem.

    Another good use of the shape-shifter is that it allows your supernatural characters to become like another society, whether that society is human, animal, or what have you. In this way, your character or characters can integrate into the society and move the story smoothly along.

    Faes

    A fae, or fairy, is also a character we see often in supernatural novels. These mythical creatures are often good, pale-skinned creatures with green eyes. They often have an unbelievable beauty, wings, and are short in stature. Sometimes they may be only inches high, but if you are talking about a character in paranormal romance, usually these fairies are more human-like and are just on the short side.

    Often in literature they have the power of speaking in any tongue, the power of flight, and the power of illusion, which is sometimes called "glamour." Many have the power of precognition, flight, and sometimes even shape-shifting.

    Faes are often the "good" in our paranormal stories, fighting off evil, helping the hero or heroine conquer evil, or sometimes serving as the heroes themselves.

    Changelings

    Another character that pops up now and again in paranormal romance is the changeling. These are fairy children who have been left in the place of stolen human babies. Sometimes, it is older folk who were abducted. You may recall them from folklore, when sometimes humans were captured by eating fairy food, as was Persephone in Hades.

    This may be an interesting route for you to take, as it has not been done over and over.

    Werewolves

    Werewolves are a supernatural character we are all quite familiar with. They are also a form of shape-shifter, but are much better known for other reasons.

    The characteristics of werewolves include their appearance, which sports a combination of wolf and human features. They have human bodies but wolf heads. Sometimes these characters turn into full wolves but bigger and stronger.

    In addition, they have hair on their palms, long hair on their heads, and canine-sharp teeth. They run on all fours. Usually these werewolves howl at the full moon and/or howls replace the human voice at times, although this example may happen only in cartoons.

    When it comes to transformation, a full moon turns the human into the werewolf, and this causes the character to act violently. His or her hands and feet turn into paws and the ears become pointed and hairy.

    Vampires

    Vampires are shape-shifters that are better known for other reasons. Vampires have been prevalent in Gothic literature for centuries.

    Vampires can turn into bats or other animals, sleep in coffins, and be killed by a stake through the heart. They are warded off by garlic and have to be invited into one's home.

    It is also well-known that vampires survive on blood; it is their elixir of life. Without a steady diet of blood, they will die. This is also cause for their deathly, pale, waxy complexions. Additionally, they only come out at night because of their fear of sunlight. In the oldest folklore, vampires do not have fangs, but of course more recent stories feature fangs predominantly. Also, in this original folklore, religious icons do not enter into the picture, but today's vampires often hate crosses and are burned by holy water.

    Often vampires can control animals. They also do not have reflections and thus do not show up in mirrors. You can also kill a vampire by decapitating it, burning it, or removing its brain.

    One element that is often integral to the plot and/or helps move a story along occurs when a vampire drinks the blood of a human, and that person turns into a vampire.

    Witches, Warlocks, Wizards. and Sorcerers

    Last but not least on my list are witches, wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers. Witches are different in all societies, different through time and by culture. Witches are typically female, but we know that warlocks, wizards, and sorcerers are often male.

    Witches are usually thin and often pale-skinned, and they usually have long hair. They may dress in black, and of course there is the pointy hat and a broom. Witches have familiars that aid them in their evil practices. Witches' attributes are usually hereditary; i.e., a mother can pass on her witch characteristics to her daughter.

    Typically, throughout history, female witches used their powers to inflict punishment on men who performed unwanted sexual acts, unacceptable sexual acts, or who hurt women in any way.

    One type of witch in fiction is the striga. These witches were the most malevolent ones, and they could fly like birds of prey and kill children or handsome young men.

    Witchcraft often has overtures that are anti-church or cultish. However, in more modern times, Wiccans have come into popularity and these are seen as "good witches." Wiccans are a part of a pagan religious movement, and they promote a harmonious, peaceful way of life.

    If you choose to include a witch, you may choose to include a good witch or an evil one, or even both, such as in The Wizard of Oz. There is a lot of leeway with the witch character. It is one you can certainly create and make your own.

    Wizards in paranormal literature are much different from magicians or illusionists you see in a stage show. This type of wizard obtains the things wanted or needed by supernatural force. In paranormal romance, you also will find the wizard referred to as an "enchanter."

    When the term "sorcerer" is used, this usually means the character practices the dark arts or black magic. The character's power is usually quite different from counterparts on the "good" side.

    Other Magical Characters

    The list of possibilities provided above is by no means exhaustive. Magical characters such dwarfs, leprechauns, and the like make great additions to your story, even if they are not your main focus. Magical characters usually have the characteristics of levitation, flight, telepathy, telekinesis, and so forth.

    It is important to remember that you can invent magical characters of your own; you do not have to stick with this list or any preconceived idea of the magical or supernatural character. Want a magical dancing bear in your story? Go for it! Give him a backstory, and he is a magical character. Voila!

    Now, what characters will you choose to add to or create for your story? It is always good to have an open mind and think about these characters. You never know when contemplation may lead to your next great idea.

  • Dialogue

    The dialogue in your novel is an essential element. As we just established, dialogue helps to pace your novel. It helps to move the story along. It is a tool that serves to let the reader in on important background information, helps give insight into a character, imparts knowledge to the reader that he or she otherwise would not be privy to, and does much more.

    Pacing

    When used for pacing considerations, dialogue can provide a needed break from the action, bring the reader back to the present from a flashback scene, show the need for urgency as it heightens the tension, and just simply break up long descriptive passages.

    Dialogue can do those things only when it is written well. Your dialogue needs to sound easy, realistic, and natural. You need to convince your reader that this is what your characters actually sound like. Without natural-sounding dialogue, you certainly will turn off your readers and they will have no reason to continue reading your book.

    When you think about dialogue, you need to think about how people really speak. This is when it is okay to throw out grammatical constraints. Think about it. Not everyone you know talks in complete, grammatically correct sentences. Most of us talk in fragments or run-ons, breaking all kinds of grammar rules, and making errors that would have our high school English teachers gritting their teeth.

    When writing your characters' words, be sure not to make them too stilted, unless that is exactly how you are trying to portray the character. Maybe he or she is an English instructor and speaks perfectly. Otherwise, use slang, make some errors in grammar, but do not go overboard here. If you try too hard, your reader will know and this is just as bad. Do not strain to write it; if you do, your readers will know.

    Observe and Report

    One thing to do in order to perfect your dialogue techniques is to simply spend a day listening to people talk. You might record conversations so you can refer back to them, but just note the way people express themselves in words. It is important to note the gestures and facial expressions that go along with our speech, as you will need to provide these in your writing, too.

    Make notes of what you have seen and heard and keep that nearby when you are writing your dialogue. This cheat sheet may come in handy.

    Punctuation Rules of Dialogue

    There are plenty of punctuation rules that go along with dialogue. We will touch on a few of them here:

    First, make sure you start a new paragraph each time a new person speaks. This helps your reader follow along. If you do not do this, sometimes it is difficult to tell who is speaking.

    Next, make sure to put the punctuation mark inside the quotation marks. For example: "Are we going to the store now?" she asked. Many who are new to writing dialogue like to put that punctuation on the outside of the quotes, but that is wrong.

    When you are writing a sentence that should end in a period, you place a comma inside the quotation marks; the final period of the sentence will serve as your end mark. Here is an example:

    "I finished my essay," he told his mother.

    Many want to write: "I finished my essay." He told his mother.

    That breaks your sentence up into two thoughts, and it should be one freely flowing piece of dialogue. Anytime you are tempted to put a period, remember to substitute a comma instead, unless you are leaving off the attribution. Then it would just read: "I finished my essay."

    About that: It is completely fine to omit attributions. Do not feel that every single piece of dialogue has to have a "she said" or "he said" attribution. Once you have your dialogue flowing, and if there are only one or two characters speaking, it is just fine to omit those attributions. Your readers are smart enough to figure out who said what.


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