Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ghosts Can Cry, Because I Say So!

When I originally started writing (mumble mumble) years ago, I started out with contemporary. Even though it's pretty straight forward, you still have to build a world around the characters. Maybe they live in a small town or in the heart of the big city. We need to give the reader, who has never been to New York City, for instance, a feeling for what it's like to walk the streets of Times Square. Accuracy is a must. Ya can't have your heroine bathing in a fountain in the middle of Broadway and Seventh Avenue if there isn't one there.

The beauty of writing paranormal is, maybe there is a fountain in the midst of Times Square because we're in an alternate universe. Or maybe it's three hundred years into the future and the mayor's cousin was in the fountain building business. Ya never know.

The main reason I love writing paranormal is, no one can tell you you're wrong. They can think it, they can believe it, but they can't prove it . . . so, nanner nanner :Þ I have ghosts in my current WIP. They can laugh and cry as well as float and walk through walls. I love finding creative ways to make them unique to my story.

Use all five senses. If you don't know what it feels like to walk through a wall (and I'm assuming you don't) make it up, but be creative about it. Somehow I don't think anyone or anything would perform this particular exercise if it felt like millions of tiny splinters sliding under your skin while smelling smoke and hearing ringing in your ears.

One of my favorite lines in a not-so-great movie was by Lauren Hutton in Once Bitten. When the heroine tries to shield the evil vampiress (played by Hutton) she held up a cross. Lauren's answer to that was:"That's just a myth. Besides, I'm an atheist." How awesome is that?

As Lori mentioned yesterday, you do have some rules to follow . . . your own. No fair having a witch take a shower early on in the book and then have a bucket of water melt her in the last chapter. And ya can't have a character suddenly learn to fly in chapter seventeen to get him out of a sticky situation either. You need to at least hint in the beginning that it's a possibility.

I like to throw a little bit of research into my world building, but be careful not to gag the reader with it. I can't speak for all writers, but when I do research I want to show the world how clever I am by throwing it ALL in there. Not a good idea. For one, it bogs down the story. It also prevents the story from being completely your own.

Be creative with your research. A little known author by the name of J.K. Rowling named one of her characters Dumbledore because it means "bumblebee". She imagined this character walking around the castle humming to himself, much like a bee would. Remember, characters are just as important to your world building as purple trees and flying donkeys.

So make your world your own. Do your research, use that imagination God gave you and have fun with it.


  1. Oh, I think it's like the gun on the mantle, too. If you hint about a potential power in act 1, it's sort of like foreshadowing the use of that power later in the book.

    Jody W.

  2. I agree, the paranormal genre does have a certain degree of flexibility that most other genres don't, which is one of the things I love about it. You seldom find yourself reading the same old thing over and over. Need a weremole with mindreading powers? Make him up. Need a planet that has a blue moon on one side and a red moon on the other? No problemo.


    Spot on, m'dear! That is why I LOVE writing paranormal romance. As long as I remain consistent to the rules of my world, no one can prove that I'm wrong.



  4. I like your thinking--follow your own rules, use your imagination and dream up a story. I'm for that! Excellent post! Write on!

  5. It's the whole reason I write paranormal, its my world and what I say is true is true. I love the articles you have here on the art of world birthing, great stuff.

    If you'd like to peek at some of the world birthing I have done come to www.moondancerdrake.com
    I'd love to hear what you think.

    Thanks for visting my LJ http://otherworlddiner.blogspot.com

    Hope to see you back soon. :)

  6. It's true, there are so many chances to do what you want, it leaves so many options open....rules can be broken.....

  7. I adore Times Square. My daughter and I visited NYC last year and we loved it. She was only 18 at the time so we did the day tourist stuff -- we're ready for a return trip when she's 21 and we can do the night-life!

  8. If you do the nightlife you MUST go to the top of the Empire State Building at night. The view is to die for!


  9. Love this Maggie-you mentioned all the reasons I'm so attracted to paranormal and fantasy writing.

  10. Excellent post! I agree, I like to be able to make things up when I need them, and it definitely works with imaginary creatures of the night. Goes along with the "rules" theme...as long as you stick to 'em, you can do whatever you want!