Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Writing Paranormal Fiction

Writing paranormal fiction sounds like a pretty narrow focus, even for a genre fiction writer. For me, however, finding the paranormal hook opened up a wide range of story ideas all knit together with the same supernatural thread. If you have 25 stories and 162 characters all clamoring for attention inside your head, you might discover that finding the thread that ties them all together is a delightful surprise.

I actually stole this idea from something Johnathan Maberry said at a recent lecture for Seton Hill Writing Popular Fiction students. He said he links genres together so he can cross genre borders. Mayberry writes primarily thrillers. His thrillers often include a romantic sub-plot. He can then write (and at least half justify) a romance novel with a thriller subplot. Why would he want to do that? Life is long and full of strange twists and turns.

Maybe you write romances with an emphasis of adventure plots. Suddenly, while accidentally watching mixed martial arts and eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, a character pops in your head with a southern accent. You hear him explaining the subtitles of the guillotine choke to his Russian ballet dancer girlfriend (eating grilled chicken--bless her heart). Next thing you know, your imagination is running wild and an entire thriller plot is born. Wouldn't it be nice to let that story live? Wouldn't it be nice to have a hook your agent could use to sell your thriller to a publisher?

Using Maberry's linking technique allowed me to link the following very different stories:

  • Tween fiction (about Salem witches and mystical school nurses)
  • Romance novels (that often include a ghost story)
  • Murder mysteries (solved by a trance medium), and
  • Sci-Fi (about space witches and the evolution of the human genome)

That's a wide selection of different genres--all tied together by a paranormal thread.

What thread ties together YOUR stories ideas. Use the comment tools below to tell us more.


  1. Interesting, Rodney. I must admit I've never tried to put together such different ideas. I'll have to ponder a thread I could use...

  2. I can't really say... Most of my stories involve some sort of journey - mental of physical.


  3. A homicide detective, a federal agent battling childhood amnesia, an ancient grimoire, an obsessed madman. The thread? Killer shadow creatures. I've put them altogether in an upcoming eBook entitled Night Shadows.