How to Write a Paranormal Romance Novel: The Ultimate Guide
Welcome to Writing Tips Oasis’ Guide to writing a Paranormal Romance novel. Our series of guides began with our first guide, How to Write a Fiction Novel. In it, you can find more tips on how to write your novel. In this guide, we will be focusing more on the writing of a Paranormal Romance.
Writing a paranormal romance novel can be a very exciting genre to explore. It is one of the rare genres where you can have two plots interwoven into one. One of them is the romance plot, and the other one can be mystery, thriller, horror – anything, as long as the paranormal element is present. For that reason, we’ve divided our guide into three parts: the romance, the paranormal, and the paranormal romance.
Two things must be of note, however.
You can write a paranormal romance novel where the plot focuses solely on the romance, while the paranormal aspect is mostly shown through world building. In addition, no matter how many times you might read (and believe) that there is such a thing as a formulaic plot that you can use for your story, you must remember this: formulaic plots become clichés very fast, especially when many authors decide to use the same plot over and over again. For example, the Twilight plot was regurgitated in many other YA Paranormal Romance books like Hush Hush, Fallen, and even more recent titles.
A formulaic, regurgitated plot can only work once, and even then, most of the readers who will pick up your book will not become loyal fans. What you need to keep in mind is to always strive for originality, and, more importantly, each and every writing advice you will receive in your life must be adapted to yourself, your writing, and your writing method.
With that in mind, we hope you will enjoy our guide and find it helpful.
Table of Contents
- Part One: The Romance
- 1. The romance plot
- 2. The characters
- 3. The hero clichés
- 4. The heroine clichés
- 5. The Romance clichés
- 6. The story and character’s arcs
- Part Two: The Paranormal
- 1. World building
- 2. Deus-ex-machina
- 3. Continuation of the story
- 4. Difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance
- 5. Urban fantasy elements in a paranormal romance world
- 6. World building errors to avoid
- Part Three: The Paranormal Romance
- 1. The meaning of dual plot
- 2. How to create a paranormal romance world
- 3. How the romance changes in a paranormal world
- 4. The happy ending: yes or no?
- 5. Tips on writing, editing and proofreading a paranormal romance novel
Part One: The Romance
The romance genre is the biggest genre in the world today, the most profitable, and the most numerous. Together with all its offshoot genres, like romantic thriller, romantic horror, romantic (insert any other genre here), there are millions, if not billions of romance books today.
In this part, we will talk all about the romance. You will learn of some of the most common romance plots out there, as well as some of the things that have been overused so much, that they are slowly becoming clichés.
1. The romance plot
You might have been led to think that there are many different romance plots. The truth is, there aren’t that many plots: there are different interpretations of the same thing. We will refer to them later, in Romance Clichés. Here, we will talk about the three acts of a romance plot that are always the same:
Act 1: Meeting and falling in love.
Act 2: The relationship gets intense, the hero or the heroine makes a mistake (usually the hero). The result is usually separation.
Act 3: The hero or the heroine makes amends, both change and learn, and come back together to live happily ever after.
There are some variations to this.
The separation might happen at the beginning of the novel, if an existing couple is facing issues that are seemingly impossible to overcome. However, the hero doesn’t really leave the scene and neither does the heroine. Therefore, the second step, where the relationship gets intense remains the same – they are connecting even though they are not together. In this scenario, the couple gets back together in the end, and we have the happily ever after.
Usually, in most romances, the hero chases the girl, or he cannot stop himself from falling in love with her. The heroine often takes on a passive role – someone who needs to be convinced of the hero’s love, rather than the other way around. Every romance story ends with a happily ever after. If it doesn’t, then it’s not a romance novel.
The Happily Ever After – the HEA – is the genre’s most important demand, and if you are not going to end it with a HEA, you better give a really good reason as to why the hero and the heroine should not be together.
2. The characters
If one thing is needed for a romance plot to work, it is conflict. However, there is a specific type of conflict in a romance – the internal conflict. The hero, or the heroine (sometimes both, if necessary) need to feel an inner conflict over committing to a person or a relationship, over trusting someone else with who they really are. These types of inner conflicts are caused by, and explained as well, by the backstory. In other words, when you’re creating your characters, the hero and the heroine, make sure that:
– At least one of them is not prepared for a relationship.
– One of them makes an effort to reach the other person on an emotional level.
– The hero and the heroine have a genuine romantic connection that blossoms into love.
It is important to keep these things in mind when you’re creating the characters of your hero and heroine. They need to be different, however, their minds will need to be aligned – even if they argue – for the romance to be believable.
This is where the importance of backstory comes in.
The hero’s background might be vastly different than the heroine’s background. He might have issues that he needs to deal with, he might have trauma or problems from the past that have left a mark. That mark is now either causing him to want to reach out to the heroine, or it could cause him to reject the feelings and try to force a separation.
The same applies to the heroine. However, in the end, they need to be able to come to an understanding of sorts, a connection of sorts, that will spark the love they’ll come to share. So, take really good care with the hero and heroine’s backgrounds and backstories, and make sure that both are directly related to the inner conflict that prevents both the hero and the heroine to just come together in a relationship at page 20 of your book.
3. The hero clichés
The romance genre is so big that there is a cliché version of every trope. For example:
Trope: Alpha Hero. Cliché: Alpha-Hole.
The alpha hero is someone who is strong on the outside, but vulnerable on the inside. He could be physically strong, in a position of power, and he uses that position of power for various reasons that actually make sense.
The Alpha – Hole: think of the captain of a pirate ship. He is strong, he is fierce. He is also merciless and cruel, he murders people because they hurt his loved ones or threatened them, sometimes, he might even enjoy killing, especially if the setting is war. Being also in a position of power, the Alpha – Hole, unlike the alpha hero, will use that power to ensure the heroine either spends time with him, works with him, and sometimes, he will do some of the following things:
– Bail out her finances (so that she owes him).
-Place her in an apartment or a house under his control (again, in a position of power over her).
– Hire her when she’s desperate so that they spend time together.
In none of these cases can the heroine refuse (and while she will rage and show her discomfort, she will never say no – which is a heroine cliché). And then they talk, spend time together, and bam! Romance and a HEA. The heroine’s problems are also solved just because the hero can write a check with many zeroes like it’s nothing – and now she will be able to do the same.
4. The heroine clichés
The heroine clichés are often worse than the hero’s clichés, because they almost always show the woman as having a passive role in the plot, rather than an active one. She can be among the following:
– An ugly duckling until she cleans up.
– Socially awkward, has one friend.
– Has many family members to take care of.
– Is in dire financial straits.
– Is probably quite short or extremely, awkwardly tall.
– Is insecure about herself and lacks self-confidence despite being excellent at what she does.
– Her job is usually low key: maybe she is a writer, an artist, a painter, a waitress, or she might hold a job at the hero’s company.
– And the list can go on.
The cliché heroine might make many mistakes, she might stumble often, she might fall, but the alpha – hole will always be there to catch her. In turn, she will discover that she is full of acceptance of alpha – hole and his many different flaws and qualities that are impossible to redeem. She makes him a good person.
5. The Romance clichés
And the cliché hero and the cliché heroine bring us to this: a cliché romance. In it, the hero basically stalks the heroine, but it’s okay – he stalks her because he cares, not because he is developing an unhealthy attraction towards the heroine.
The heroine enjoys the attention because she is convinced that she has never been shown so much love and care before, so their romance means that the two of them are basically soul mates, despite the fact that the heroine is always in a reactive position and is given very little agency of her own. In fact, if you remove the heroine and bring another woman in her place, the details of the story might change, but the basic romance will remain the same.
So, what can you do?
What you can do is be original. There are many romance tropes. Study them. Read a lot of romance books, and read all of them with a critical eye. Try to understand each character: the hero and the heroine, and draw out the characteristics that make them clichés. See the connection between backstory, character, personality and story, see how the characters can dictate the story, especially if you create cliché characters.
And then turn every trope on its head. Every cliché romance plot is up for grabs and for change. Put the woman in the position of power, make the hero a painter. Discover how a hero who is under the heroine’s financial protection (read: control) and explore how he would deal with it.
Or, if the hero is in a position of power, have the heroine not accept it. Have her prefer to slum it with a friend rather than be under his control. Would she be his soul mate in that case? Probably not. Would he be interested in someone who isn’t subjugated under him, or will he walk away and find a woman who cannot start her day without his instructions?
It’s not about feminism, or gender equality, although both come most often in romance, due to the male – female interaction. However, it is an undeniable fact that society’s preconceptions about men and women have always been present in the romance genre, so much so, that even from a storytelling point of view, these misconceptions have become clichéd stories. Just take a look at a romance novel from the 20th century, any novel, and then read a modern one. You will be able to grasp the differences – and the evolution of tropes and clichés if you read a lot of them.
6. The story and character’s arcs
The story of the romance depends on the character’s arcs, both the hero and the heroine. If the hero is a hard, cold, and emotionless person, he must change by the end of the novel, because the change will enable him to actually be in the relationship. If the heroine lacked self-confidence, she must undergo a change (and in the cliché romance, the hero is the one who changes her for the better) which enables her to believe in herself and in their relationship.
However, just because the above two examples are clichés, they show the importance of the character’s arc in a romance novel. Remember, all clichés used to be original at some point in the past. It’s the reason why Twilight was so well received, and it’s the reason why it quickly became a cliché story – especially when many other authors decided to use the same elements: stalking, pursuing, coldness, followed by grudging acceptance of feelings and happily ever after (until book 2 anyway).
In a romance novel, who the hero is and who the heroine is prevent them from being together. The hero might even pursue the heroine, but not feel ready to commit to her. However, these tropes can be turned around.
What you need to do is practice the ‘what if’ scenario, and practice it really hard.
Because romance tropes are very easy to regurgitate, even when you’re not aware of it. You think you’re writing a “better romance” than what came before, only to have someone else read it and tell you “Hey, this happened in Knocked Up,” or another movie or novel that they have seen or read, respectively. However, the more you practice the ‘what if’ scenarios, the easier it will become. Soon, you will discover how the first attributes you gave the heroine have already been written about often, and you will discover that instead of a realistic hero, you’ve created an alpha – hole who has to get his way, everything else be damned.
Remember, the story and the characters’ arcs are connected – and backstory and background must become integral to the story and the plot. But that doesn’t mean that your choices of stories are limited to cliché romances.
Part Two: The Paranormal
Before we talk about the creation of paranormal romance, we must talk about the paranormal itself. Paranormal is a catch-all term – an umbrella, of sorts, and underneath that umbrella, you have creatures whose origins can be found in world’s mythology and religion, creatures of legends like the vampire and the werewolf, angels and demons, shape shifters of all kinds and species.
However, the paranormal is not just about the paranormal creatures and paranormal characters. The world itself is changed by their presence, and it is within this world that your romance will happen. It is within this world that you need to combine two different plots into one, and as such, the paranormal aspect of your novel is the foundation upon which you will build your story. As such, you must treat the world with equal importance – think of it as a character.
In the second part of this guide, we will try to help you to create an imaginative paranormal world that, while different from our world, many of us can imagine living in.
1. World building
When it comes to your paranormal world, you need to remember one thing: if the world doesn’t make sense, neither will the romance you will tell, especially if the hero or the heroine is a paranormal person, not a 100% human being. The paranormal world offers many possibilities, and you’d be surprised to learn that what you need to know how to do is stop.
You need to know when to stop. It might seem interesting to have both vampires and angels in the same world, however, you must ensure that it makes sense. For example, Nalini Singh, one of the world’s most famous paranormal romance writers, has actually managed to put angels and vampires together in the same world in her Guild Hunter series. And she managed to do it because she gave the angels and the vampires a connection, and she has mostly kept the story revolving around them.
And that’s exactly the kind of world you need. You need to create a paranormal world. Inherently, there will be magic in it. Whether you will have psychic people living among normal humans, whether you will have witches, wizards, mages and demons, cyber toothed cats from ancient times, gods and goddesses come to life, you cannot simply throw every possible myth and legend at the wall and see what will stick.
You need to think it through.
Which paranormal creatures will you include?
How is the world changed by their presence?
What is their society like, if they have any?
What is their life like? What sets them apart from humans, and what makes them so interesting to write about?
What else dwells in your world?
What does normal human life look like in that world? How do men and women fall in love, and who do they fall in love with?
But, most of all, remember to set limits. And you will learn why in the next section.
Deus-ex-machina is a term that is used to explain when something unexpected and inexplicable happens in a story that saves the day, but doesn’t really make sense in the narrative sense. The deus-ex-machina solution was prominent in ancient plays, where playwrights got the characters out of a nasty situation with the “help of the gods.”
And the problem with that is the fact that today, such a story is not a reflection of our modern world. We rarely get divine help, so when a protagonist or a character is taken out of a nasty situation, the readers are not pleased. They are not pleased at all.
You’d think that such a thing might not happen in a paranormal romance. After all, what’s going to happen, a goddess will come to solve the heroes’ problems?
As a matter of fact, it has happened that a goddess actually lifts a curse off of a certain demon so that he can live happily ever after with his chosen mate. But since the goddess in question was the goddess of chaos, and that particular pairing was going to cause chaos and change on a larger level, it made sense in the narrative.
And therein might lay your problem: you might create a character that is so paranormally overpowered that the story falls apart. The reader will realize that the problem was easy to solve in the first place, and the reader will feel cheated as a result.
So, the deus-ex-machina might not actually happen in your story as an event, but it might happen as a person. No one likes overpowered heroes and heroines, just as no one likes overly clumsy heroines that cannot do anything by themselves.
Keep your characters balanced and limited, even if they are witches and wizards, or mages, or vampires with paranormal powers. Ensure that their powers make sense in the story and the world, and make sure that they are limited – otherwise, your story will come apart.
In the meantime, never forget the change that the creatures’ presence brings to the world – even if they live hidden from the general population. When they are hidden, the world will be changed as well, just not in such an obvious manner. The changes will be subtle, but they must be there for the world to make sense.
3. Continuation of the story
Repeat after me: nothing will ever give me a better chance for a continuation of the story – for creating a series – than a good paranormal romance book.
Because even if you finish the story of the couple’s romance in the first book, you can write another book set in the same universe, using different characters as the hero and the heroine. Bonus points if you bring back a side character from the previous novel as the hero of his own story, and double bonus points when the hero and heroine appear as side characters to help the new couple with a problem. Just Google paranormal romance series, and many, many, many different series will prop up in the results.
As long as you ensure that the new romance is different than the old but still makes sense in the paranormal world, your second book will draw even more readers to you. This happens because readers often pick up book 5, for example, realize that this is a part of a series featuring different characters – and they often go back and read the whole set, especially if they like the book that they’ve picked up (book 5 in our example).
The draw here is the same as the draw of TV: each installment features a different couple, and it feels like you’re watching a new episode set in the same world. To achieve this, you will need a bigger overall plot, however, with outlining and planning, you can create a series that will go on for many books.
4. Difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance
A very common problem that occurs today is the confusion between paranormal romance and urban fantasy as genres. The thing is, both are very similar and often feature the same things: a paranormal aspect and a romance aspect. However, in urban fantasy, you might or might not have a romance, but in a paranormal romance, the presence of the paranormal and the romance is imperative.
As such, a well-crafted urban fantasy with a romantic aspect, like Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy and Kate Daniels series, might be considered urban fantasy. In fact, Hidden Legacy is even considered and marketed as a paranormal romance, just because it ticks the right paranormal romance boxes. However, the happily ever after comes at the end of the third book in the trilogy (for now), while in most paranormal romances, the happily ever after comes at the end of the first book, even if the second book continues developing the romance between the hero and the heroine.
When it comes to urban fantasy, however, the happily ever after might never come. If it does come, it comes in the middle of the series, and even then, the story continues because of the overarching plot of the series, not because of the romance.
In paranormal romance, the story continues because of the romance. The hero and the heroine will face different challenges, but the story is about the romance between the two. For example, take Richelle Mead’s Georgina Kincaid series. Told by the point of view of the heroine, who is a succubus, the story revolves around her love and relationship with a mortal. There is a semblance of a HEA at the end of the first book, but their romance is not just a side plot (as it would be in an urban fantasy novel), but it’s the main thread that connects all six books together.
In urban fantasy, romance is something that happens, especially if you want to make your story as realistic as possible. In real life, we date, have relationships, experience heartbreak and overwhelming joy – why should people be any different (or unemotional or uninterested in romance) just because they live in a paranormal, urban fantasy world?
In a paranormal romance, however, the romance is either the dominant plot or a plot that’s equal to the other plot. The main plot might be what brings the hero and heroine together, but as the story progresses, so does the romance, and the importance of the romance increases more and more until the two plots come together at the end for the ultimate HEA. It is one of the reasons why it might seem that a paranormal romance will be easy to write, when in fact, it demands just as much effort as any other book, in any other genre.
5. Urban fantasy elements in a paranormal romance world
We talked previously about the other plot that does not revolve around the romance between the hero and the heroine. That plot is the urban fantasy plot in a paranormal romance. Depending on how your story goes, this plot can decide whether you’re writing urban fantasy or paranormal romance.
When both plots are of equal importance, you have a paranormal romance. When the urban fantasy plot is what drives the overall story, you have urban fantasy. That doesn’t mean, however, that you cannot have an urban fantasy plot in a paranormal romance novel.
That’s because any other plot in a paranormal world will touch upon urban fantasy. Mystery revolving around murders or thefts becomes urban fantasy when they involve paranormal creatures – and they must involve them because they are a part of your world.
If your other plot can happen in a world that’s not paranormal, then you need to rethink your story. If the hero is a mage but never does anything with his magic, then why is he a mage? If the world features great beasts that are dangerous to humans, you need a group of people (or mages or vampires, or whatever species you will choose) to fight them to protect the ones they love. If your heroine is one of those protectors, and your readers never see her “on duty” your world is not believable.
A heist becomes doubly fun when it involves paranormal creatures, or when the artifact to be stolen has magical properties and can be very dangerous to everyone involved. The paranormal world offers the chance to write a different spin on medical thrillers, it offers the chance to include horror in a romance story, something that can be very difficult to achieve with horror set in the real world.
A detective story becomes doubly more difficult to write when the detective protagonist can read minds – how does one keep a secret from him, how can you write a murder mystery story when the detective only has to be in the same room with the murderer to know that?
This is where we reiterate our caution of overdoing it: beware of creating such overpowered characters that they:
– Don’t need to change at all.
– Can solve most problems in less than a page.
Because then you couldn’t possibly tell a story about them.
On the other hand, the urban fantasy elements offer great opportunities for interesting, never-before-seen backstories. Your heroine could have been raised by a pack of animals due to her magical powers. That type of heroine might be unable to connect with people in general, she might suffer from abandonment issues, or she might be a well-developed individual whose world view is more black and white than gray.
Your hero could have been a good kid, but his paranormal abilities have changed him so much that his innocence is lost. All in all, the possibilities are endless, the characters that you can create in such a world can be very vivid and larger than life (however, don’t forget to keep them real and not making them overpowered).
6. World building errors to avoid
We talked about the overpowered character earlier. We also mentioned how you can also view the world as a character. Is it possible to create the overpowered world?
Yes. Of course it is.
Imagine a world where most people can fly. Hey, I want to write a romance up in the clouds. People fly, you might say.
The readers’ first question will be: why and how do people fly?
What will you answer?
If the planet has low gravity, there will still be some gravity to prevent people from flying. In low gravity, and in no gravity really, people bounce and float, but they still need a propulsion system to fly. So, maybe they could get their hairdryers and use them as a propulsion method – except, if the world has been like that since the dawn age, then why haven’t they invented a better propulsion method to fly?
Well, you might say, it’s not low gravity. They just fly. It’s their magical ability.
Okay, the readers will say. What kind of magical ability? Are there more magical abilities? What happens with those people who cannot fly?
(Now, this is where you will see the difference between a well-developed world, and a wonky one.)
Answer 1: Yes, there are more. There is a list. Those who can fly burn through so much energy that they die earlier than other people. Then there are the people who can read minds. Do you know that they go mad unless they find a way to control their gift? Hey, then there is the spellcasters, who can cast any spell, but it chips away at their minds slowly until they don’t remember their own name. Those who fly don’t carry another power, and the power is not genetic. The world is magic, but often, the magic has no other outlet but flying.
Answer 2: No, it’s just that people fly. They always have. Their bodies are just lighter, and they hop off of something (usually the ground), and they fly because they’re magic. Also, when they fly, they cannot be shut down, but the hero’s brother was, and the heroine is a suspect in the brother’s murder.
Can you spot the difference between the two examples?
In the first example, we’re trying to develop the world more, but also give it some limitations. The easiest path is always the consequence for using the magical power, however, you can dance around many ideas for limits before you find the one that fits best.
In the second example, you can take away the flying and still have the same romance, where the hero’s brother has been murdered and he falls in love with one of the suspects.
The biggest mistake you can make when building your world is to add something “just because it’s cool.” We’re not saying not to add something “just because it’s cool” – you can do that because you’re the author and you’re the God and creator of your world. However, when you add something cool, make sure to add it logically and weave it into the world, rather than just put it in there without cause.
So, how do you weave it?
With continuity. Make sure to always be on top of your world – you know what happened to the world, in broad terms, and then as you write your story and develop your world more, make sure that there are no inconsistencies. This is one of the things that you must pay attention, especially during the editing process when you must catch all inconsistencies and errors. Why? Because if you don’t, your world will resemble the second example more, instead of the first.
Part Three: The Paranormal Romance
Finally, we arrived to the Paranormal Romance itself. Here, you will learn how and why you need to combine the romance and the paranormal world into one. We will talk about the dual plot and what it means, how to develop it, and how to bring the separate plots into one. In addition, you will learn about the difference between a romantic relationship in the normal world and a romantic relationship in a paranormal world.
1. The meaning of dual plot
Before we continue, let’s get one thing out of the way: a novel can have a dual plot even if it’s not a paranormal romance. The ideal dual plot is the amalgamation of two plots that intersect each other – as in, progress in the paranormal plot will cause progress in the romance plot – and vice versa.
The actual development of the dual plot is up to you. You might create the paranormal plot first, and then plan the romance plot along the way. Keep in mind, though, that since romance depends so much on your characters and their personalities, the romance plot is less urgent compared to the paranormal plot.
For example, if you have a paranormal murder mystery, then the story appears to move forward along with the murder mystery plot. On the way, the romance will happen, and without the murder mystery plot, it wouldn’t have happened. In addition, you must make sure that if you take out the romance, the murder mystery wouldn’t have gotten solved either.
You can go the other way around: start with the romance, especially if you’re writing a paranormal romance novel where the romance is of bigger importance, and where you don’t really have a dual plot, but a romance plot and a side plot that happens as a result of the romance. Remember, the presence of a dual plot is not strictly necessary. Each genre has its rules, that’s true, however, rules are also meant to be broken. It’s a risk to break a rule of a genre, but, you can also reap great rewards if you do it well.
If you wish to write a paranormal romance novel where both the paranormal plot and the romance plot equally dominate the story, then the best way to go for it is to develop it at the same time. Take a look at basic plotting (not detailed plotting). In the basic plot, you have Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3. You can divide the first act into two parts: the normal world and the entrance to the new world, after a point of no return.
There are two important moments in the first act. The first moment is the point of no return: where the protagonist cannot ignore the “call of duty” because of an event that represents this point of no return – no matter what the protagonist does, he must go forward because the world he or she knew no longer exists. At the end of the first act, you have the decision moment – where the protagonist decides to fight for the world he lost, when he decides to bring it back by solving the problem.
Act 2 represents the protagonist’s journey and fight. During the second act, the protagonist changes and comes to the second decision moment: and this time, that decision leads to the resolution of the story, which is what Act 3 is about.
When you are trying to create a dual plot composed of two plots that come together, you need to plan these three acts twice: once for the paranormal plot and once for the romance plot. The good news: they don’t need to have the same pace. The decision moment we talked about above doesn’t need to be the same moment for both plots. Depending on character, point of view and narrative, one of the plots can go faster while the other one can be subtler and go slower (usually the romance plot).
The best way to go for it is to create a very detailed outline for the story. By outline, we mean defining the defining plot points for both the romance and the paranormal plot. And then, you must find a way not only to bring these together – but to ensure that the paranormal plot points lead to the romance plot points and vice versa.
Thankfully, the romance genre is versatile. When you imbue emotion in your characters, and when you amplify that emotion by a thousand fold, even a normal day at home or the office – or a paranormal hunt becomes a lot more dramatic.
2. How to create a paranormal romance world
We talked extensively about world building in this guide, especially about the paranormal world and why it’s important to develop it well and give it limits.
When it comes to creating a paranormal world with romance – or a paranormal romance world – you need to create a balance. As in, you must ensure that there is time, within the course of the novel, for the romance to happen. Romance stories rarely develop over several years, especially if they are set in a paranormal world where things can happen very quickly.
However, if all your scenes are fast paced scenes: action, fights, car chases and explosions, fast scene after fast scene, with barely any time for reflection and understanding on the side of the characters, then you will not leave time for romance.
And romance needs time to develop. Pace your novel well, create a balance between the fast scenes and the slower ones, and most of all, ensure that your characters can enjoy some genuinely romantic scenes together.
Which means – you also need places in your world that scream romance. For example, maybe your heroes need to track someone in the desert. That doesn’t really scream romance, does it? Unless your story depends on the desert itself, then see if you can change it to a different location. For example, in one of Jeaniene Frost’s paranormal romance novels, the heroes were tracking the villain in Vegas, and having a glass shower in the middle of the suite didn’t hurt the romance at all.
In conclusion, ensure that there are places in the world where your heroes can find moments to reflect – and to enable the romance to happen. Nothing gets the blood boiling faster than a fight, that’s true, but it’s not just about passion – romance novels are also about intimacy and emotional connection. And you must ensure that your heroes are in places where they can indulge in it.
3. How the romance changes in a paranormal world
If you go back to the example in the previous section – with the romance up in the clouds – you will understand that romance itself changes in a paranormal world. If angels walk among us, how do we enter relationships? Does the human necessity for emotional connection and mutual attraction remain the same?
Or, if your characters are shapeshifters who only mate once for life, how do they discover their mate? If it’s just by sight, you could also write a romance novel about love at first sight and still have the same story.
Moreover, if your hero or heroine has special powers, how do those affect him or her, and how do those powers affect his or her attitude towards relationships? Is she afraid to touch another human being because she has a gift that can hurt another person through touch?
How does a couple function when one touch can lead to mind reading and knowing everything? How will the heroine deal with being in a relationship with a man who can read her thoughts – and vice versa?
In addition, if one of the characters can actually fly, can you really have a romance novel without a kiss up in the clouds? The short answer is not really, while the long answer says that a kiss up in the clouds must be important to the overall plot (both plots) in order for such a scene to be justified.
4. The happy ending: yes or no?
As we previously said, a romance novel demands the Happily Ever After. It’s the basic requirement of the genre. In fact, some people and authors say that if your novel has romance that doesn’t have a happy ending, then it’s not a romance.
We also said that rules are meant to be broken – and that’s also true. However, every time you break a rule, you carry the risk of losing readers. You need to understand that when a dedicated romance fan picks up a romance book (or paranormal romance, in our case), and they don’t get a HEA, then you are left with a low rating and probably a negative Goodreads review. On the other hand, if a casual fan picks up a romance novel and there is no HEA, then the casual fan will probably be less subjective and more objective in his or her review.
In this day and age, word of mouth over the internet (that is, through social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, and especially Goodreads), is highly important – which means that even when you write a book about yourself, you are also writing it for the readers. And readers of the romance genre expect the HEA.
If you do decide to break the rules, however, you must ensure that you break them in a way that makes sense. Maybe the hero or heroine will turn into the villain, or maybe one of them will be too much of an antagonist to the other – so much so, that instead of growth and development, he or she will cause negative emotions, pain and suffering that is so extensive that a relationship between the two people will be impossible to come to via cause and effect. In the end, it’s your decision – and oftentimes, the story itself dictates its own progression and end.
5. Tips on writing, editing and proofreading a paranormal romance novel
When you write a novel, it’s important to find your own method. It’s your choice to allow inspiration to come to you for every scene and every chapter – or you can choose to write a certain amount of words each and every day in order to finish your novel faster. Both ways have their own merits: if you wait for inspiration, then you will enjoy writing the novel a lot more. The downside is that it will take a longer period of time to write it.
On the other hand, if you write every day (as it is the case with NaNoWriMo, for example, where thousands of writers all over the world decide to write a 50K word novel in four weeks), you will write your novel faster, that’s true. However, you will need to edit it, once, twice, three, ten, and maybe even twenty times in order to polish your manuscript to perfection.
So, here are some of the things that you must pay attention during the editing process:
- Correct spelling and grammar;
- Repetitive words;
- Repetitive phrases;
- Long descriptions that slow the pace;
- Too many fight scenes that leave no room for reflection;
- Purple prose can be both good and bad: if you’re naturally lyrical in your prose, ensure that the prose is actually readable and easy to comprehend;
- World building inconsistencies;
- Plot holes.
You will need objectivity, so make sure to get a beta reader. The beta reader can be a friend, a family member, or you can hire a beta reader who has done that previously. If you need more tips on writing and editing a novel, make sure to check our guide to writing a novel, or our guide to writing a post-apocalyptic novel.
Writing a novel of any genre is difficult. Romance might give the impression that it is an easier genre to write, however, the truth is that romance can be the most difficult genre. In any novel, you need to touch the readers’ emotions, but in a romance novel, you need not only to touch their emotions – you also need to make an impact.
When you add in the paranormal aspect, your world building has just become a lot more difficult.
On the other hand, there is a reason why the romance genre is the most popular genre in the world. Once you decide to get on the journey of writing it, make sure that you find your own writing pace, method, and ways of developing your story and your characters.
Today, there is more than enough material that can teach you everything you need to know about writing a paranormal romance novel, both online and in books. Our final advice is to read as many books as you can in the genre, read as much as you can about how to write a paranormal romance, but use that material as help, not as gospel. You need to adapt every tip and trick to yourself, because every writer is unique.
How to Write a Paranormal Romance Novel: The Ultimate Guide is an article from Writing Tips Oasis.
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