Effectively Crossing Genres
I wrote a previous post about what to do if you're confused on choosing a writing genre. In this post we'll dig a little deeper into that topic.
The word paranormal can bring to mind a great many things to people depending on your reference points. Ghosts, night trolls, that thing under your bed that can only be sated with fresh pillow mints. It's only recently that the word has sprung up in literary circles as a genre on the move. Some famous names and world renowned books fall under the umbrella of paranormal including Unhallowed Ground by Heather Graham, Duma Key by Stephen King, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Nightseer by Laurell K. Hamilton, and Forever Odd by Dean Koontz. These popular titles can also be found under a lot of cross-genres as well.
More often than not Stephen King is referred to as a master in "horror." Dean Koontz is known for suspense. But in an effort to be word friendly to broaden audiences the terminology of paranormal, supernatural, and dark fantasy is now being used to describe these same authors. Paranormal lends itself well to every genre. It’s a development that is simply a progression of reader tastes and new writers coming on the horizon with new story lines.
Why not blend genres?
There are rules to every game, you learn them, use what is decidedly in your favor, and then throw out the rest and make up new ones. Some of the most creative novels didn’t adhere to any set form. You write what you know, yes, but you also write what you want to write. If there is a novel that you want to read that hasn’t been written then you must write it. There is no sense in following the trends because tomorrow something new will have come along. Is paranormal fiction a trend? That remains to be seen, but if you write a paranormal romance because you want to become the next Stephanie Meyer I say put the brakes on and find out why you really want to write that story. Trends come and go like a thief in the night.
There are plenty of opportunities out there for all different types of quality writing. You just need to do your homework before submitting haphazardly. But if you truly dig the paranormal and you want to write that novel because it’s eating away at your cerebellum, keeping you in a perpetual haze, and you desperately need to sleep at night then welcome friend, you’re in good company. I believe the beauty of adding paranormal or the supernatural to your novels lends itself to the bending of the rules just enough to test the boundaries but not enough to go off the deep end.
Anything is possible as long as you declare the rules to the reader right out in front. For example, when I started Resurrected, my paranormal suspense,I made it known from page one that this was going to be an adventure ride where anything was possible. My world was a blank canvas and I had the freedom to be as creative as I wanted to be. When you're dealing with subject matter like ghosts, angels, and life after death or the plane in between you have creative freedom because such areas remain a mystery.
What Alice Sebold did with The Lovely Bones is a prime example of traversing worlds. In Resurrected I've taken that same approach and added in character viewpoint from a secondary character who must deal with this ghost entering her world. I established my tone within the first few pages as well, dark and unforgiving, letting the readers know up front that the macabre existed in this world. One of the best things about writing is creating worlds, whether they be urban, rooted in history, or completely foreign and pulled from the far reaches of your imagination.
Just remember, if you believe so shall we. Half the fun is bringing these places and these characters to life. When you add a hint of the paranormal it’s like touching off a great dish with that extra bit of spice that “wows” the guest and enhances the experience. Think of your readers as your guest...wow them. I like to develop backdrops and characters so real to the touch of the mind that you believe these are situations you could find yourself in but hope to God you never do. These are questions that beg answers. Questions are the forefront of the beginning of any good novel. Writers of the paranormal, and readers as well, are infinitely in tune with a broader sense of exploration. There is a thirst for explaining the unexplained. So the next time you sit down to write a novel ask yourself one question to start: “What if....”
Bonus: What’s Your Favorite Paranormal Book?