Writing Tips: Creating the Paranormal

16 Sep

As many of you know, Minutes Before Sunset is a YA paranormal romance, and my other novel, November Snow, is a YA sci-fi. Although I’ve written in other genres, I wanted to concentrate on these genres, because I’ve found a lot of people (especially those who hesitate to try out the genre) think the genre only consists of vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. While these creatures aren’t bad, this belief is completely wrong. There are all kinds of demons, witches, time travelers, magically-empowered beings, and shape-shifters that aren’t werewolves.

For writers, I wanted to talk about this belief and going beyond the vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. There are so many creatures and/or legends to get inspiration from. But where do we start?

Three things you can consider:

1. Creating your own creature entirely–something never heard or seen of before.

At some point, an author used a creature for the first time. Even vampires were new at one point. But there seems to be one thing these creatures have in common: they come from legends, stories passed down for generations. There are entire websites dedicated to urban legends, so why don’t we expand and use these to inspire new legends? You can also use mythical creature lists and/or other cultures tales. For instance, I am fascinated by Japanese legends; they seem to be entirely different than Western legends, so it helps inspire that stretch of creativity.

From the New X Group: Black Eyed Kids

From the New X Group: Black Eyed Kids: I imagine this is how Fudicia would look.

Fun fact: “Lights” in Minutes Before Sunset were inspired by the legend of the black-eyed children, kids who show up at your door and attempt to coax you to allow them inside your home. I also thought it was a perfect legend to use, because it’s really popular in Missouri, and, at the time of writing Minutes Before Sunset, I was living on the border of Kansas-Missouri, and the novel is set in Kansas. However, these black-eyed children have been reported from all around the world throughout history, so…look out and don’t open your door for them! ;]

2. Using a spin-off of an already popular creature.

Personally, I love any creature as long as the author makes it their own. For instance, The Forest of Hands and Teeth revolves around zombies, but they aren’t called zombies. They’re called the Unconsecrated, and that’s just the beginning. They have all types of rules, explaining why some act differently and what created others. This concept became a writing obsession for me. Personally, I think I combined 1 & 2 in my writing style. I love creating something new, something that might be influenced by one creature and spun into another world entirely, but it is generally influenced by another creature I’ve heard of.

For instance, you might realize the Minutes Before Sunset “shades” fit under shape-shifting, telepathics. Even though they are “shape-shifters,” they only shape-shift into another person and only one person. In other words, they have two identities. There isn’t a lot of range when it comes to their shape-shifting abilities, but they have other magical abilities when they are shades or lights. When it comes to their telepathy, they can talk to one or more people at once. (Like a private message and/or a chat room.) They can also block people from communicating with them. Other shades–specifically Eric’s father, named Jim (or Bracke)–can sense when people are using their telepathic abilities.

3. Write with the traditional version of any creature.

I want to clarify that there is nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to create something new. You can use the traditional vampire if that’s what your writing heart desires. What matters is the storyline, and it’s entirely possible to have a fantastic story with a traditionally used creature.

Basically: there are endless possibilities and ways to create the paranormal worlds readers love.

So embrace the upcoming fall, make a bonfire, sit around, and tell some paranormal stories. Who knows what will influence your inspiration next.

If you have any experience in creating or using traditional paranormal creatures, please share! 


23 Responses to “Writing Tips: Creating the Paranormal”

  1. Ky Grabowski September 16, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    Reblogged this on Ky Grabowski and commented:
    “For writers, I wanted to talk about this belief and going beyond the vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. There are so many creatures and/or legends to get inspiration from. But where do we start” – Shannon A. Thompson

    Learn about things you can consider when writing in this genre!

  2. Miss Molly September 16, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    I’ve never tried to do this, but after reading the post, I want to!

    • Shannon Thompson September 16, 2013 at 1:27 am #

      I’m glad 😀 If you decide to try it out, let me know how it goes!

  3. cnmill September 16, 2013 at 5:06 am #

    Fantastic advice for putting a new spin on things and branching out. There are so many options out there and novel-writing can go as far as your imagination can take you. There are no limits, as long as the story makes sense.


    • Shannon Thompson September 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

      “novel-writing can go as far as your imagination can take you.” Love this.

  4. Paucstlo September 16, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    I completely agree with you on this one! I personally love combining both traditional aspects along with something created purely out of our own imagination. I’ve applied that technique in one of my works.

    Currently, I’m also working on a new project with attempts of creating an entirely new race. It’s very timely that you’ve posted something like this. It helps a lot! Thank you so much!

    • Shannon Thompson September 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      o_O new race! That sounds very exciting. Good luck 😀 I might write in more detail one of these days about creating completely new creatures. We will see!

  5. Paul Bowler September 16, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Great advice for creating new ideas and letting your imagination run wild, so long as the story makes sense of course. Really good post, thanks, its giving me a lot of ideas.

    • Shannon Thompson September 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for your kind words.

  6. TBM September 17, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    Well now I’m afraid to answer my door 🙂

    • Shannon Thompson September 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      Hahah! Especially at sunset, right? I just watched an hour-long discussion on it the other night. Spooky!

  7. Jevon September 17, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    I don’t know much about Japanese legends except what I’ve seen in all those anime I like to watch, but I really like Greek Mythology. They have some amazing characters and stories.

    I think there are great legends and folklore all over the world. Like right here in Trinidad and Tobago, we have Dwens and Papa Bois, and my inspiration for paranormal creatures actually comes from a mix of them all.

    • Shannon Thompson September 17, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      0_0 I will have to look those legends up (Dwens and Papa Bois) I think Greek mythology is another great place to go!

      • darthballs77Gerry February 16, 2014 at 11:11 am #

        I’m writing a novel based in the middle ages for my daughters for when they get older (as its quite dark)..but one of my main characters is a ‘human’ but can do all sorts of supernatural things…taken from all cultures and a mix of my own imagination.

  8. bluebutterfliesandme September 17, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    Perhaps they were never fiction, and really exist somewhere, for if the exist in the mind at all they are real.

  9. myeagermind September 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Reblogged this on Lenora's Culture Center and Foray into History.

  10. countingducks September 19, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    I don’t write in this genre, but as a general post about writing and ordering your imagination I thought this post was excellent

    • Shannon Thompson September 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

      Shucks. Thank you. I’m glad you could see the tips stretching into another kind of writing. What genre do you usually write in?

  11. debhuston September 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    I also focused on this genre in my Phineas Blue series. by blending reality with the paranormal beyond the ubiquitous vampires, werewolves, trolls and ghosts.

  12. angel7090695001 September 26, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    Love this. I have done all three techniques and this is a very good post for writers especially fantasy.

  13. pampressed October 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Awesome blog post! I needed this!


  1. Author Interview with Shannon A Thompson | The Modest Verge - January 27, 2014

    […] shades when writing the second novel. I actually explained my decision on my website” here: https://shannonathompson.com/2013/09/16/writing-tips-creating-the-paranormal/ where I discuss the method of combining old tales with new ideas in order to create a refreshing […]

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