With currently over 50,000 paranormal books on Amazon, you’re certainly not stuck for choice! But what makes a paranormal story great? What keeps you reading well into the night because you just can't bring yourself to put it down?
Webster's defines paranormal as 'events or phenomena outside the possibilities defined by natural or scientific laws' - that should provide any author with enough scope for a story!
Now I'm not going to name any books - but I've read quite a few that are... let's not be too unkind... not very good. Many authors seem only too happy to put out, and this is my view, ill-thought out plots with characters doing unbelievable things to fight an even less credible enemy. Now I'm not putting myself up as a master of the craft, I'm really just a beginner, but I know what I like and I certainly now what I don't like.
For me, a great paranormal story has to have - and not in any particular order:-
1) Characters you care about - if you don't give a fig what happens to them, why keep reading! You have to feel their fear, share their dilemmas and root for them in their battles against the bad guys.
2) Conflict - if there's no threat or some force preventing the hero reaching their goal (love, power, fame, survival etc.) there isn't really much of a story. Of course it doesn't have to be physical - an internal conflict of conscience as our hero descends into the murky world of vampires but enjoys the power it brings, makes for a great clash of moralities.
3) Scary monsters/ creatures/ antagonistic force - they have to be something that could, with a stretch of the imagination, exist out there. If a creature or unseen force is so far removed from reality – even in a paranormal story, it's just not scary because it would never be a threat to us.
4) Mystery - a plot that ignites our curiosity will keep us glued to its pages. A plot that slowly unravels the big questions by dropping in hints and small nuggets of information is far superior to one that blurts it all out in a lengthy monologue. Arrrhh... the dreaded backstory and how to get it all in there :0)
5) A love/ lust interest - it's the most powerful motivator and one we can all empathize with - see number 1. And it inevitably leads to conflict - especially if you have a love triangle!
And last, but certainly not least…
6) A believable victory - gone are the days when our hero could pull out a crucifix to kill off the vampires! There’s nothing that cheats a reader more than a last minute, ‘rabbit out of the hat’ to save the day. For me, there has to be clues along the way that have helped the hero discover how to defeat the antagonistic force. The reader has to have that ‘oh yeh – of course!’ moments when the story reaches its finale.
Why not check out my first novel below, and let me know if you think I've ticked all the boxes necessary for a great story.
R.E. Palmer is a new author writing new adult paranormal fiction with a science fiction edge. His debut novel, SKY, is available in paperback and Kindle format from Amazon.