Key Elements of Paranormal Romance

Guest Post Re-Post: Originally posted 6/24/2014 on Cabin Goddess as a guest post – part of my Black Orchid blog tour organized by Masquerade Crew. This topic was requested and I really enjoyed thinking about and writing this post. Kriss had some awesome graphics to add to her post. I highly recommend you click that link and read the post there.


I think if you ask any paranormal romance reader or writer, they’ll give you a different list of what the key elements are. Or, at the very least, you’d get a different emphasis on what’s important. I can only tell you what I look for as a reader and try to write into my own paranormal romance books:

1. Romance is the Key

I’m not talking about sex. I’m talking about the heroine and hero must fall in love and have their relationship develop over the course of the book in a way that makes it a primary story line.

2. Kick Ass Heroine
This is a personal preference. I’m not a huge fan of wimpy heroines who can’t make a decision, etc. I do like the “development” plots where the heroine discovers her strength over the course of the book. As long as she’s kick ass by the end.

3. Alpha Male Hero
The hero has to be as kick ass as the heroine, otherwise it’s not a balanced romance. This doesn’t mean he’s a jerk or super bossy – though that can happen as long as the heroine is the catalyst for change. It doesn’t mean he’s the head honcho even, or supernatural himself. But it does mean he can hold his own with her, has specific values, is trustworthy, is protective, and on and on. And, most of all, he loves the heroine (or falls in love with her). There are entire posts all over the internet devoted to the Alpha Male.

4. Supernatural Elements
I find this to be the fun part to read and write. It’s limited only by my imagination. Super powers, shifters, fairies, ghosts, etc. But it’s not a paranormal romance if there isn’t some kind of supernatural element to the story.

5. World Building
Paranormal romance is set on earth in current day most typically. Other more exotic settings tend to be other genres. So the current world is already built. Paranormal romance has to build the supernatural world into it. Is it a secret? Are there societies? What dictates their norms? Is it more about the individual? And so on and so forth?

6. Conflict
The conflict in these stories can come from a few places. You can have a villain – which, because of the paranormal elements – tends to be some kind of super villain. You can have the supernatural elements be the conflict. Remember that the romance is the key – is her ability to see ghosts freaking him out and that’s the conflict? Is the world building the conflict? Is this a dangerous world for our heroine/hero to live in?

7. Happily Ever After
This is a romance. It has to have the happily ever after. I know there are series of books in this genre where the hero/heroine don’t have their happily ever after till the last book. While this works for some, it’s not my favorite. I like to have the couple end up together and happy at the end of a single book. Even in a series.

Those are my key elements to paranormal romance. These are pretty high level, and there are many different ways that authors in this genre can take each element. That’s what makes it such a fun genre to read! Imagination is the limiting factor.


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