We’ve got a very special guest with us today! Please welcome Amy Corwin who is going to offer up some tips on writing my favorites – Paranormals!
Plotting the Paranormal
My name is Amy Corwin and I write paranormals. Actually, I write mysteries—both contemporary and historical—as well, but today I wanted to explore writing paranormals. They really aren’t much different than writing other kinds of novels, except perhaps the focus of the plot. When you’re sitting down to write other kinds of fiction, you generally fall into plot-driven or character-driven categories, regardless of whether you’ve never plotted out a book in advance in your life (a “pantster” writer) or do a complete plot outline before you place fingers on the keyboard to write.
Plot-driven writers create a plot and their characters weave their way through it. Character-driven writers let a character’s strengths, weakness, and goals drive the plot. For example, in a character-driven plot, the main character may be a kleptomaniac and that trait causes the character to get into a series of escalating problems. In a plot-driven novel, the plot may be that someone wakes up to find a dead body in bed next to him and has to figure out what happened before he is arrested for murder.
Ideally, you want the characters to drive the plot, while keeping them in line so that the plot doesn’t just drift off randomly like a blind man lost in a swamp. For example, if the guy does wake up in bed to find a dead body, it may be that his character led him to that place to begin with (he’s a party guy and notoriously drunk and someone used that to decide to frame him) and his character may drive the rest of the plot as he tries to prove his innocence. Most books aren’t purely one or the other.
A paranormal novel adds an additional dimension to the plot: the paranormal. What is interesting, however, is how this changes the basic plotting. In a way, you could think of a paranormal as being paranormal-driven. Whatever element makes the story a paranormal, be it a supernatural creature or some super-psychic ability, is what needs to drive the plot. If your story is about a woman who can see dead people, then the plot needs to revolve around her ability to see the dead. Perhaps she sees her dead son and learns he didn’t really commit suicide, but was murdered. She’s then driven to resolve the case, but runs into other difficulties due to her psychic abilities. That ability is the “character” trait that must drive the plot. Kay Hooper does this very, very effectively in her Noah Bishop, Special Crimes Unit novels. Each character in that series has a different psychic trait and that trait forces the character into the story and propels him or her forward.
Haunted house stories are another familiar breed and in contrast to Kay Hooper’s Special Crimes Unit, haunted house stories tend to be more plot-driven, but the plot is in essence the paranormal element: the haunted house. But since it’s rare to have successful books solely plot or character driven, and a classic example is Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. While it is a haunted house story and driven by that paranormal element, the haunting works on the main character’s weaknesses. It was Eleanor’s personality and sad history that intensified the paranormal elements and created a compelling story. Without Eleanor’s specific emotional makeup, the story would have been just another blah-blah ghost story. Instead, it became a classic that few other books have ever matched.
It’s never easy to blend all the elements and it’s perhaps a wee bit more difficult when you add the paranormal. It’s like a juggler picking up that third axe: two axes seem dangerous enough, the third just seems crazy. But it’s thrilling to be crazy.
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Memories may help her survive, but will they help her resist her vampire protector?
Exploring Gwen’s long abandoned childhood home in the company of her attractive neighbor, John, sounds like an intriguing evening. However, she soon realizes her mistake. John is a vampire and her house is not exactly empty. Secrets—and the dead—don’t always stay buried, and John’s extraordinary strength and determination may be all that can withstand what awaits them in the darkness.
In the following excerpt, Gwen has asked her neighbor, John Wright, to accompany her to her abandoned family home. She knows he’s a vampire, but despite this, she’s attracted to him and wants his company on this adventure.
But when the two of them get to the house, she’s not so sure it’s a good idea to enter…
Excerpt from Vampire Protector
John stopped and waited on the stoop. He glanced over his shoulder. When she didn’t move, he held out his hand in a peremptory gesture. She stared at it, thinking how human his hand looked with a sprinkling of dark hairs on the back of his wrists and strong, blunt-tipped fingers.
He must have been working outdoors the day he died, for there was still a tinge of sunburned red deepening the tan. The sun-kissed color reinforced the false sensation of heat radiating from him. He felt warm and alive to all her senses, despite the knowledge that he was not.
Her heart twisted with loneliness. It had been so long since she had felt arms around her. But she hadn’t met a man she felt she could trust, and a vampire was out of the question.
She had lost her way and did not know how to find the path back to a real life.
“Hold my hand if you’re afraid of ghosts,” he offered with a twisted smile. A flicker of sympathy grew in the depths of his eyes, revealing a sad recognition of the gulf between them: vampire and human.
With a sense of surprise, she felt his warm gaze tug her even closer to him. As if his awareness of the differences between them meant they shared similar core beliefs and that she could trust him because of that.
She shivered and thrust her thoughts away.
“Hanging onto your cold, dead fingers is not going to make me feel any better.”
“I’ll warm them for you.” His dark eyes flickered. The corners crinkled with silent laughter.
“You can make me think they’re warm. But they’ll still be cold, dead fingers.” The hairs rose along her neck and arms. She glanced over her shoulder toward the graveyard across the street.
“The remnants of the dead—those tatters—have probably drifted over from the graveyard. They’ll collect here. It’s not that I’m afraid of them. It’s not like they’d consciously attack me or anything, but they’ll be attracted to the body heat of anything living. Like me.”
She gestured toward one of the drifts of leaves in the farthest corner of the porch.
A few pitiful gray, black, and white feathers lay amidst the debris. At some point in the past, a mockingbird had tried to nest in the shelter of the porch. The bird had been sucked dry of energy and warmth before it realized what was happening and flew away. All that remained was a dry handful of feathers and bones.
The sight did not bode well for anything alive that entered the house.
About Amy: Amy Corwin is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and has been writing for the last ten years and managing a career as an enterprise systems administrator in the computer industry. She writes Regencies/historicals, mysteries, and contemporary paranormals. To be truthful, most of her books include a bit of murder and mayhem since she discovered that killing off at least one character is a highly effective way to make the remaining ones toe the plot line.
Amy’s books include the two Regency romances, SMUGGLED ROSE, and LOVE, THE CRITIC; three Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN, THE BRICKLAYER’S HELPER, and THE NECKLACE; and her first paranormal, VAMPIRE PROTECTOR.
Join her and discover that every good romance has a touch of mystery.
Thank you for having me here today, I enjoyed it and hope you’ll leave comments about the kinds of paranormal stories you love the best!