Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Writing the Fantastical and the Paranormal

If you're a writer I don't know how you could have missed the current Paranormal and Fantastical trend.  It ain't just for kids, it's captured the imagination of nearly everyone. You have your vampires, your werewolves, your psychics, magicians, ancient gods, witches (good and bad), demons, shamans, ghosts, fairies, et al.

Lots and lots of choices out there.  Many genres in which the fantastical and paranormal will work well.  Romances are big on the paranormal right now, then there's horror, and even westerns seem to have possibilities.  SciFi accommodates the paranormal as well.

So if it appeals to you, if it grabs you, it might be a place for you to plunk down some new writing roots.

Here's the interesting thing about writing the Paranormal and Fantastical.  Lots of things we think of as weird or unreal actually have some basis in fact, history or superstition and can be well researched to find out interesting and odd facts.  That allows you the opportunity to inject your own peculiar perspective.  Frequently we wonder, what if there is some other dimension, some other turn to our own reality.  That shadow that flitted past the edge of your vision, the peculiar wind that popped up out of nowhere, the chill in a room when the heat is running full blast, the flap of wings over head - yet nothing is seen.  Those and so many other things, not to mention our age old fear of the dark lend themselves to incredible stories. 

A couple of examples.  Vampires were pretty much made famous when Bram Stoker wrote Dracula.  Of course he wrote that about a hundred years after 'real' vampire outbreaks in Europe.  Strangely, or maybe not so much, Vampires could well have been people believed to have died buried in shallow graves who then clawed their way out to return to their village - to be labeled vampires and killed for real.  Then there are the legends in Serbia that vampires took to the night in the form of (really, folks thought this) spiders, lice, bugs, dogs & cats who hosted them, frogs and toads).  A little research will get you a lot.

Psychics are an interesting lot.  They bear a reputation as charlatans, but there are the rare ones who are for real.  There are also precognitive moments and deja vu. They can just know something, they can have visions.  Their take on things can be fairly clear or more like a puzzle to be solved.  They can see and communicate with the dead or see the future and sometimes the past.  A wide range of abilities.

Werewolves go back as far as the Greeks and terrified the Europeans way back.  The Norse and Icelandic myths are even more interesting  mythology believing a man can shift into an animal (mostly into wolves, but not exclusively so) by leaving his human body behind and entering the body of an animal.  Neat trick!

The world we live in is racing forward at light speed, exploring new horizons, trying to get  a handle on what is real.  And yet,   mythology, supersition, and the unknown, the scientifically unexplained remain.  People hunger for stories that explore these realms.  They want to stretch their imaginations to wonder at crop circles and strange phenomena, to contemplate strange creatures whether new creatures from our imaginations or old creatures of myth recreated or reawakened.  Dragons, gargoyles and sinking continents.  Light and dark, good and evil.  These are ancient concepts and most modern as well.

Explore, research, and see where it takes you.  The imagination is a wonderful thing and the resurgence of popularity of these types of stories is fascinating in itself.

Cover Artwork by
Linda Hunsaker


  1. nice informative article. What goes around comes around in trends including literature topics.

  2. Useful background, Peggy. I think lots of paranormal fans don't know much about this kind of mythology pre- "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or Anne Rice's books. There's rich history out there. Thanks for a good overview.

  3. Thanks Rebecca and Annerallen. I've always found the supernatural fascinating and am glad it's "coming around" now.


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