Monday, August 29, 2011

Writing the Paranormal Novel

Writing the Paranormal Novel: Techniques and Exercises for Weaving Supernatural Elements into Your Story by Steven Harper

Paranormal novels (those with ghosts, telepaths, vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and more) for adult and young-adult readers continue to top bestseller lists, but, until now, no resource exists to help writers craft these stories. This book shows how to successfully introduce supernatural and paranormal elements into your stories, create engaging and relatable characters and craft plots where even the most unusual twists are not only possible, they are believable.

--Writing the Paranormal Novel
by Steven Harper
Copyright ©2011 by Steven Harper Piziks
Published by Writer’s Digest Books

My Review

I enjoy writing and I have more books on how to write than I care to acknowledge. I’ve made it a personal goal this year to start weeding through them and getting rid of those give me no great insight into the craft. (Don’t know if I’ll finish that task this year, but at least I’m starting, right?)

This book will stay on my bookshelf forever.

Not only does it do a great job of explaining how supernatural elements should be woven into a story (vampires, werewolves, magical objects and mystical gateways), it lays out the essential elements of a story, ANY story (plot, theme, voice, language), whether supernatural in nature or not. It contains a trove of useful information, from gathering the elements of your story, to creating characters and the crafting of the story. It even goes into what happens after you’ve finished creating your story (the dreaded query letter, submitting to agents and publishers and how to handle what comes next).

And it’s written with humor. Rather than being a dry, boring textbook-type read, Harper has fun with us, keeping the reader/aspiring writer interested and wanting to keep turning the pages to learn more.

For example, when discussing the “Gary Stu” character (the male counterpart to “Mary Sue”), he writes:

Like Mary, Gary is possessed of breathtaking looks (don’t forget the exotic eye color), has more skills than James Bond, and has a body made for pouring melted chocolate over.

Mmmm, melted chocolate…

Oh…ahem…back to the review.

If you have zero interest in writing paranormal stories, I would not recommend this book. Its main focus is on writing for the paranormal audience and the constant reference to those elements may eventually bore the non-paranormal reader. However, if that is your interest, whether you only want to write paranormal novels, or if your interests lie in both para- and non-paranormal, then give this book a read. You’ll enjoy it and you’ll learn a lot about the craft of writing.

I give this book FIVE STARS.

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