Breaking Traditional Creature Myths in Paranormal Romance
When writing paranormal romance, sometimes it is fun to shake up the rules of existence for the creatures we are all familiar with. Maybe you want your vampires to walk in the sunlight. Maybe you want your werewolves to be able to wear silver. Maybe you want your mermaids to have fins in the water and legs on land. Because you’re writing a fictional book (and can basically do whatever you want), you’re welcome to break tradition, but there are a few elements you should consider developing before you write your story, so there won’t be any confusion for readers.
1. Lay out the rules surrounding the creatures’ existence.
If your paranormal creatures do not fit the normal mold of our understanding, it is important that you develop the full list of rules that govern their lives. Having the rules laid out will help you know what will be important to your story and what does not necessarily need to be explicitly stated. As you write your story, these rules can be weaved into relevant situations as they come up. This will help to create a complete picture of what their existence is like. What can they eat or not eat? Do they have predestined mates? If yes, what happens when they meet? Do they have any weaknesses? Do they have any strengths? All of this will be information your readers will like and need to know, so it is important to be sure you have established your rules beforehand to help with the development of the story.
2. Plan how to address how your paranormal creatures break the traditional myths of their rules of existence to readers.
If your vampires can walk in the sunlight, then it’s usually better to just come out and talk about it. If this is not addressed, readers may wonder if they are following the book correctly because, in most contexts, vampires can’t be in the sunlight. In stating up front that the myth isn’t really true and vampires can in fact walk in the sunlight, you avoid the reader becoming confused about if the character is actually a vampire or about certain aspects of the setting, such as if the chapter is taking place at night or during the day.
3. Determine how these changes affect their day-to-day lives.
So, for a vampire, if they can walk in the sun, it is pretty obvious how this drifts away from traditional myths. In the case of mermaids who have tails in water and legs on land, there could be some potential issues to have to think about. Do their legs become tails in the bathtub too, or only in the ocean? What happens when it rains? To make things really complicated, maybe every time a drop of water drops on their legs, a scale will pop up. Small details like this can really contribute to the development of the story overall.
4. Decide if your creatures have always followed a different set of rules this or if there was a change that took place at some point.
Did your supernatural species evolve at some point throughout the course of history? Maybe over the years, your paranormal creatures have developed more strength or another power. Perhaps your vampires no longer need to drink blood, because they have learned to sustain themselves by eating steaks cooked rare. Now, they only drink the blood of the person they fall in love with because it is considered more of an intimate act by modern vampires. You could explain that this change began to take place as a deeper understanding of blood-related diseases developed or as blood donation became more regulated and documented.
5. Decide how this break in stereotype affects the creatures’ relationship with humans.
With the shift in the paranormal myth, you have to consider how the change affects how your creatures interact and survive with humans. For example, maybe the myths all got it wrong for werewolves, and they have an issue with gold, not silver. How are they adapting to the millennial trend of gold accents and rose gold everywhere? Perhaps your mermaids only have straight hair and find the current trend of mermaid curls annoying because they know their hair won’t curl. The day-to-day interaction of your paranormal creatures and humans will be an essential part of your story.
By laying out this information about your paranormal creatures, you will be able to develop your story around them. These elements can contribute to the story and can be helpful to readers as they are learning to understand these different rules of existence. This need is similar for when an author creates an alternative universe or a new world; we have an understanding of our world, so clarification should be given to help readers recognize and understand how the new world works. So, have fun breaking the traditional myths of the paranormal monsters we all know, just be sure you have all your bases covered so your readers can love your new version of paranormal heroes and heroines as well.