Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - making the old something new

Paranormal romance novels feature a lot of creatures that come from popular mythology. Vampires, demons, and werewolves, oh my! The problem with this is that we see the same characters over and over again. It can get tiresome. Yet we love reading and writing about our favorite paranormal creatures. The trick is to take the old and make it something new.

Do your research. If you're writing about vampires, read everything you can about them. Legends, mythology, and fiction. Pick a few particular characteristics and play them up. Maybe your vampires can walk in the sun, but the sight of a holy symbol will blind them. Instead of having the bite cause ecstasy in the victim, let it cause nightmares.

During your research, you might come across little know tales. An obscure myth from a tiny country. These are the ones that you should latch on to. Find out what makes these creatures unique, and what in its culture led to the different take on them. It makes a big difference where your vampires are from because that's what made them the creatures they are now.

Don't be afraid to use exotic myths. A Hungarian legend says that a person can become a werewolf by passing under a birch arch three times with the help of a wild rose's spine. Serbian folklore has a vampire returning from the grave for the single purpose of fornicating with his widow. Armenian lore states that a woman guilty of one of the seven sins must spend seven years as a werewolf. Pick pieces from these myths and twist them to fit the modern world.

Of course the biggest source of originality is your imagination. Add something completely new to your werewolves, make them your own. Look to how the environment is changing and what effect that would have on people that can change into animals. How would that change them? Read about modern myths and make your vampires evolve into creatures that can rule the technological age. What characteristics would they gain to make that possible?

Do you have any tips on making the tired old creatures into something new?

Thank you to Cherie Reich for suggesting this topic. If anyone would like me to talk about any particular aspect of paranormal romance, please leave me a suggestion in the comments.

32 comments:

  1. I'm a bit of a wimp, I find paranormal romance I bit frightening! Though come to think of it, I do use Norse mythology in my children's books, so many be I'm not so far from this way of thinking after all. :0)

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    1. Sometimes it can be frightening! I love Norse mythology, but I have Viking blood in my family. :)

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  2. Great blog post and suggestions... I like twists on paranormal with historical thrown in there..:)

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    1. Thanks! I like twisting old legends, and your creatures on Mondays provide great fodder. :)

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  3. Looking for other foreign myths is a good idea!

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    1. Thanks! They're fun to just read about too.

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  4. Excellent tips! And clever writing helps a lot too!

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    1. Thanks! Yes it does. A good idea won't make for a good story if it isn't written well.

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  5. This is a great topic and you have some fantastic tips! I LOVE writing about myths.

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    1. Thank you. Myths are lots of fun! I can't wait until you write another fantasy novel again. I love your sci-fi books, but when you write fantasy, it's magical.

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  6. This was a great post! I'm in a writing slump and you have given me ideas- You have coaxed my muse from hiding!

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    1. Thanks! I'm happy to have lured your muse out. I have some cookies if that helps too! ;)

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  7. I think that's why Anne Rice's Vampire novels were a huge success. She took an old myth, even creating her own origins of their beginnings and made it into something that hadn't been done before.

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    1. That's very true. I was a huge Anne Rice fan. Armand was my favorite.

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  8. Awesome suggestions! I especially love the idea of looking at old and obscure myths. :)

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    1. Thanks! It's fun to just read the old myths. Sometimes I spend way too much time researching! *LOL*

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  9. Those are some really great ideas. I like mixing things up and turning them on their heads as a way to make the idea original. :-)

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    1. Thanks! Sometimes all it takes is changing one thing and it makes all the difference.

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  10. research is a must! adding originality & imagination makes it plausible & unque =)

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  11. what wonderful tips--and although i don't write too much about things i have to do research on---i would like researching this stuff just for the fun of it--fascinating!

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    1. Thank you! I research just for fun too.

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  12. I love the idea of searching for myths from other countries. :)

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    1. Thanks! There are some strange little known myths out there.

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  13. I love your tips for finding original twists on well-known creatures. Since the beasts show up in Urban fantasy, too, I was wondering what the difference is between paranormal and urban fantasy ... a future topic for you. Maybe. Maybe you've already covered that one.

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    1. Thanks! That's a good topic. I did the difference between YA and adult paranormal romance. The difference between paranormal and urban fantasy is a fine line to walk.

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  14. I base a lot of my writing on mythology - especially Asian myths. Love putting my own twist on them.

    I'm a little sick of vampires, right now. So I'm looking for something very different in the Urban Fantasy genre.

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    1. I hear you about the vampires. It has to be a very original story with vamps to nab my attention these days.

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  15. Great tips! It can definitely be a challenge to come up with an original twist on things.

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  16. Here's a question for you . . . kind of . . . The story I'm working on now (though it's starting to become a novel) is best described as a contemporary rom-com with magical elements. Is that paranormal romance? I don't even know because I'm not very familiar with the genre. This story of mine isn't over-the-top vampires and such, but the main characters do have magical abilities. So . . . Where's the genre line?

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    1. If your story focuses on the romance, meaning that the relationship is central to the plot, then yes, it would be paranormal romance. If the romance is not central but a sub-plot, it would be more urban fantasy.

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