Strategically, from an author’s perspective, paranormal, science fiction and fantasy are all very similar genres to work on. In addition to strong character development and plot structure, these genres all require intriguing and careful world-building. While it’s true that a world of witches or ghosts is different from one involving aliens, robots, trolls or elves, I still think the environment has to be subtly but deftly imagined and described.
Many decades ago I began writing a fantasy novel set on a remote island in the distant future, where a young character was tasked with locating a certain number of mystic artifacts. I was 16 then, and no idea about the rules of myth or legend writing, coming of age stories, or the Three-Act structure. I just wrote. And while the story rambled on with no clear plot, I knew what the lay of the land was, what kind of obstacles my hero would face, and at least vaguely what the monster looked like.
I drew a map.
Astoundingly, I still have that story and the map, which are both still inside the 32 year-old notebook.
The point is not that the story was good. It wasn’t. But I could pick it up today and start it over again, and the world I imagined is still right there, ready to be described and shared.
Sympathetic characters in my paranormal stories all share a common trait. They have certain types of connections with ghosts. The rules of engagement in my ghost stories are consistent throughout my stories, even if the characters change from story to story.
So as you write paranormal, science fiction or fantasy stories, feel free to jot down your rules. You don’t have to follow established rules from films or literature regarding what zombies or Martians can or cannot do. But you need to consistently adhere to your own rules.
I can help you brainstorm descriptions for your world, or solidify your plot structure, help you develop characters, and, of course, copy edit or proofread your drafts. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, because your book deserves an extra dose of awesome!