Scared But Determined—How to Write a Believable Paranormal Story
Don’t be scared. Don’t close your eyes. Don’t be afraid to look. It’s the monster of your dreams, so vile and sly, Said with a smile it took! Beautiful it is, all whispers and grace You can’t think it could cause any harm. But it holds a knife to your throat, and a rose in a hand And asks you to choose what you want!
Paranormal literature is all about tantalizing your senses to explore the unknown. Not relying too much on the splatter of gore or the rattling chains, paranormal books inspire nightmares and fear. But, not all of them succeed in doing so.
Writing a Paranormal book
Not going down the road of the Texas Chainsaw massacre strategy, paranormal books—successful ones—utilize the most underrated tool in horror: the unknown. They do not state outright what a paranormal being might be. Instead, their books welcome you into the darkness, unraveling your creativity, allowing your mind to go haywire as you assume the worst.
We fear what we do not understand, what we do not recognize. And that is what your paranormal book has to be about.
An excellent paranormal tale does not make things too obvious. There is no accompanying laughter that goes on a tad too long. There are no soulless eyes or shiny teeth that clue you in on the reality of the situation.
First, it makes you feel like something is off. And it relies on the smaller details. Empty streets but open bars. People pausing mid-stride as others walk by, unnatural movements and homes built in strange angles ALA the Winchester Mansion. It is the subtle details that hint toward something… odd.
The Soft Whispers
As a writer of paranormal books, you get the advantage of being able to portray strange beings as you want. You do not rely on CGI effects or sounds but characteristics. Forget adding large, impactful words like ominous, ectoplasmic, or other. You are trying to scare people, not impress them with your vocabulary. Instead, you show them something that triggers their emotion.
A child in the corner of the basement, looking at you blankly, a human hand reaching out and grabbing your ankle as you get off the bed, big eyes staring at you when you turn around—there is a build-up toward the scariest scene. This process is known as foreboding. You incite the reader’s emotions as they delve deeper into the story.
Is it The End?
A great element of paranormal books is that you do not need to end things on a positive note, or any note at all. Leave the last page on a cliffhanger, or without context. Add to that uneasy feeling. Use paranormal elements to turn your reader’s imagination. That is the only way you will make your book memorable!
I am Cattleya, author of the trilogy, The Black Shade of White, a multi-faceted 3-part series that spans across multiple genres, including fantasy and paranormal. Read my work and use it as inspiration.