Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Writing for Paranormal Romance Fans

Make Us Care and Feel
Some people who submitted paranormal romance stories conveyed the paranormal aspect better than the romantic one. So here are more details to improve your writing. A unique story idea and inventive paranormal figure aren’t enough to satisfy readers. For us to identify with them and their plight, characters need to come alive by exploring their feelings, reacting to others and emoting.

Romance fans want to feel an intense interpersonal connection with your characters as if they’re real people we know. So, how do you make them and their love story resonate with readers? Tap into each POV (point of view) character’s range of emotions, thoughts and feelings by using all of their senses and showing their vulnerabilities. Draw us into their love lives so we have a personal investment in their outcome.

Women comprise the main paranormal romance audience, so include romantic elements female readers crave. We read romance fiction to live vicariously through the female character’s interaction with her male counterpart as they form a close, meaningful bond. You may accomplish this through the female or males point of view. Or use a combination but with just one POV per scene.

Some readers assume the role of the heroine. We want the story to elicit emotional responses from tears to joy as we relive the thrill of falling in love again. So make us feel your characters’ attraction, longing, yearning, heartbreak and sexual tension. Their blossoming emotional connection may culminate in some form of physical fulfillment if possible for your paranormal entity. For our anthologies, we aren’t interested in a story about unrequited or one-sided love that doesn’t become a true romantic relationship.

Keep Us Reading
Use suspense to keep fans engaged and turning pages. Answer your audience’s burning questions. When, where and how will two individuals become a couple? What will spark their relationship to develop into love? And what obstacle(s) will they overcome to be together? But how do you keep us invested in their story? Show; don’t tell. Make that your mantra.

Stating that he kissed her doesn’t make your story a romance. That’s telling. You need to show how that liplock changed her life. We want to enjoy every delicious detail of their first kiss and touch. But write in just one character’s point of view per scene. Use her thoughts and senses to show us how being close to him affects her emotionally and physically. He needs to express his feelings verbally too. Readers can’t wait for him to say something touching or profess his love. Don’t be embarrassed to reveal their innermost feelings in thoughts. Like the female character, your audience wants to relish how his devotion feels deep within.

Tempt Us with Intimate Scenes
Our PG-13 rating doesn’t mean omit sex. If you want to include this element, write one or two love scenes to be appropriate for younger readers too. Make them tasteful and touching instead of erotic or graphic. Depending on your POV, at least one character should want and long for the other. Female fans will keep turning pages, waiting for them to share their first kiss. But readers want to experience desire and passion too. When they touch finally, focus on the heartfelt connection more than the physical act. We want to feel how being intimate strengthens their emotional bond.

Combine Paranormal with Romance
Don’t add a paranormal entity to a romance story as an afterthought or nonessential character. Make it one of the lovers or the one who brings the couple together or hinders its union. If the supernatural character is not vital to the central love story, it has no place in your tale. Likewise, a romance tacked onto a paranormal story doesn’t work. You need to weave these two elements together throughout your tale so it wouldn’t work without either one.

Create a Satisfying Ending
If you write a story that stops before the romance begins, fast forwards past it or leaves the couple’s relationship up in the air, you’ll need to revise. After hanging in for pages, readers don’t want to feel cheated by a disappointing or anticlimactic ending. A true romance carries us through the excitement of a new relationship as it grows into the expectation of lasting love. You may have an untraditional tragic ending if it follows a romantic progression and that alternative carries more impact. But remember always what readers want, and they will enjoy what you write.

What’s Next?
Practice the writing tips in this and my other blog posts. Keep checking here and the Cliffhanger Books website for announcements of selected stories, publication dates and future anthology calls for submissions in this and other genres.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Paranormal Romance Guidelines

Read Before You Write
Cliffhanger Books will request paranormal romance short story submissions periodically. Check our website for future Paramourtal anthology calls for submission when we will post deadlines and complete writers’ guidelines. But if you want to get a head start, keep the following criteria in mind.

Each new, previously unpublished story should be truly original with unique, well-defined, emotionally complex characters. Give us an innovative take on an established paranormal character type. Approach your love story from a fresh angle or motivation. Hook us in with an imaginative and perplexing plot that will keep readers engaged until the very end. Read my other blog posts for more helpful tips on paranormal romance writing. Our length range is 6500-8000 words.

Required Story Elements
Your submission may be dark, edgy, sweet, tragic, humorous or just plain scary as hell. It must combine these two essential elements:
• The central plot revolves around a romance between one female and one male.
• Make one of the lead characters a being of supernatural origin. Or the paranormal figure may be a third character integral to the main couple’s love story (i.e., brings them together or hinders their union).

Suitable Language/Content
Keep all language and content PG-13 rated. Write for adults without being offensive or too overt. Keep in mind that this is romance, not erotica. So don’t include graphic or explicit sexual terms. Instead, be creative with your descriptions. Try subtle, figurative, metaphorical and symbolic prose rather than blatant physical details.

Do NOT include:
• Graphic, bloody, violent acts, descriptions or explicit torture of any kind
• Demeaning racial insults or acts of bigotry
• Stories about real people -- living or dead

What’s Next?
Keep checking this blog and the Cliffhanger Books website for more details, writing tips, selected stories, publication dates and future books in this and other genres.