10 April 2007

Creating a Believable World

Paranormal Fiction is a hot genre at the moment. But to capture a reader’s attention, you have to create a fictional world that seems real. It doesn’t matter that your characters live on Planet XYZ or in Medieval England fighting Dragons; the rules of their world must have a footing in reality. And by reality, I mean what’s real to those characters and those worlds. You can create any world setting your heart desires, but you have to define rules that make your fictional realm go round without any hitches.


Take for instance the vampire romance. I’ve written vampire novels where my vamps can go out in dim sunlight, where they’re hybrid beings such as part fallen angel, and even one novel where a specific sect of vampires are subjects of the Celtic fire / sun god Lugh. But in all those cases I needed good rules as to why my vampires were a bit different from the stereotype. My fallen angel vampires don’t drink blood unless they are in dire straights, they survive on the fruits and berry wines of Paradise supplied to them by the archangels. In my upcoming Samhain Selkie vampire novella IN THE SHADOW OF THE SELKIE, my vampires follow the rules of the Selkie world – they have Selkie / Seal pelts and should they lose their pelts, the person who takes them owns their souls.

You can do anything you want in your paranormal novel, but you have to have good reason behind it so the reader can associate the character with his or her special twist on the genre. Maybe you have a werewolf who instead of shape-shifting every full moon transforms whenever he smells roses. The shift can be a result of a scientific experiment gone wrong where werewolf blood accidentally became tainted with rose oil before being injected into the human it was being tested on. Or the werewolf who bit the human did so in a rose garden and in the process a bit of rose oil mixed with its blood as it bit its prey. Now you have a werewolf shape-shifter who is sensitive to the scent of roses. And what if the heroine in the story is a Botanist cultivating a special rose hybrid for medical purposes or she’s the head of a mega perfume company specializing in rose scented fragrances. This can cause some interesting scenarios. Readers will identify with the difference in this werewolf character since there’s good reason behind why he transforms when smelling the specific fragrance. (Okay, the mentioned plots were off the top of my head and probably not the best thought out ones, but you get the idea :-)


Adding a special twist to your character can make for an interesting plot in this very popular genre. Have you ever read a paranormal novel that had rules outside the norm?

M.A. duBarry
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