I read a LOT of paranormal romance. I also write it. So I’m sitting here at the keyboard trying to boil it down into seven tropes: the seven things that aren’t so much over-used as instantly recognisable and definitive of the subgenre. Or to put it another way: what do I like to see in a paranormal romance novel?
Kick Ass Heroine
Right from the start, even if she’s in a Cinderella role, I want to see strength in the heroine. What does she believe in? What will she fight for?
Magic Won’t Solve the Problem
The fun of paranormal romance is, in a large part, the imaginative worlds authors create. How does some form of magic or “otherness” make the world of the book different to our everyday lives? However, as mind-boggling as the magical world is, magic can’t solve all problems. Human resourcefulness and the heroine’s emotional journey must contribute to saving the day.
A Man of Mystery
Part of the heroine’s (and reader’s) journey of discovery must include the hero. Who is he really? What secret is he hiding? Why can’t we guess what he’ll do next?
Who Has the Map?
We’re all going on a quest. It might be to solve a murder or to save the day, but there’s a quest underway. There’ll be setbacks and, hopefully, unforeseen twists. The stakes get progressively higher.
Don’t Die Laughing
Humour lurks in paranormal romance. Sometimes it’s subtle and rueful. Other times it is loud and snarky. As the tension ratchets up, someone crack a joke!
Find the Touchstone
The worlds of paranormal romance are many and varied, but as we quest here and there, we have to stumble over a touchstone or two. Somewhere in the thickets of magic is the truth. As readers, we recognise some soul truth. So does our heroine, and it changes her. It goes back to the first kick ass question: what (or who) is worth fighting for?
And We All Live Happily Ever After
Whatever happens in a paranormal romance novel, it is a ROMANCE. There has to be a happy ending, or a happy for now ending. Better make it believable, too. The world may be magical, but human hearts remain the same, and we want our hero and heroine to have a solid chance at happiness.
You see, at their core, paranormal romance novels are about fighting impossible odds in incredible settings with unusual sidekicks out of the hope that somehow we (like the heroine) can make a difference in life.
What do you expect to see in a paranormal romance novel?
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