1. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    How do you make the paranormal believable?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by picklzzz, Jan 30, 2012.

    Hi all. Every idea I come up with for a novel, it seems, involves some aspect of the paranormal. I think it odd because I don't really read such novels myself. If I was to go with one of these ideas, however, how do I make something unbelievable into something the reader is willing to accept?
     
  2. Balmarog
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    Balmarog Member

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    It depends on just HOW paranormal it is, but building relevant atmosphere would help a lot. People almost expect shady, dilapidated houses to be haunted, especially if it's surrounded by unaturally thick fog.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    The best way is to read successful novels with the similar theme, and see how it was done well.
    Otherwise, since you said you don't particularly enjoy books with paranormal themes, you should ask yourself why that very thing keeps popping up in your ideas. Sometimes it is just a lot easier to have something magical resolve the plot issues, and it takes a lot more work to invent plausible, non-paranormal solutions.
     
  4. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    If you believe in your world it's much easier to get the reader to believe. I go with the thought that the reader will believe whatever I throw at them if I do a good job writing it. If someone doesn't quite believe then the writting needs to be tweaked.
     
  5. UrbanBanshee
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    UrbanBanshee Member

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    Keeping your paranormal stuff consistent is a huge factor in making it believable. Your readers will notice rule changes mid story.
     
  6. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine Member

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    Well it depends on what you mean by Paranormal i guess. In my opinion Ghosts are more believable than Vampires, and it's hard to write something if you don't believe yourself. But i think the characters make it believable. But that's all Ghost and Vampires are, a belief. If you believe in your characters, and make them passion and true to their beliefs then it'll come across to the reader.

    Hope i helped
    x
     
  7. THP
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    THP New Member

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    The main thing in any story is to have internal consistancy in the logic.
    If your book has no mention of ghosts and is entirely realistic until 90% through, then the reader is not going to belive in the ghost.
    If its set up from the begining though then it will seem natural.
     
  8. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    I think whoever said I'm not sure how to resolve plot issues is correct. However, I think of the paranormal first. The things I have thought of are body/soul transferrence, curses that cause bad luck (which come from ancient mythology), transfer of misfortune by animals (superstitions), etc...

    Now, I'm thinking of something possible in the future that has to do with mind control, which is more sci-fi, although that is closely related to fantasy. What I usually enjoy reading is nothing that I can write. I like good legal and medical thrillers, and something of a scientific nature, but I don't feel I'm knowlegeable in any of these areas to write convincingly. I am a mathematician, so I'm trying to work in that angle, but I don't want it to bore or confuse the reader (yes, I know most people dislike or downright hate math). I'm trying to work in mathematical ideas, but anyway, everything I've come up with pretty much has a paranormal component.

    I really agree about the logic and consistency.

    My one story (I posted somewhere in the Short Story forum the beginning) has to do with a curse some sacred sect put on a person and they received back a mythical object (which I made up) which is a puzzle to be solved to avoid dire consequences. The next part takes place in the 20th century, where the object again appears in the clutched hands of a corpse that was dug up in a murder trial due to additional evidence. Then, flash forward to present day, where the main character gets the object, and the story is about what happened to her with it and also the connection to the case involving the murdered woman. So, I have shown this cursed object from its origin to modern day. How does that seem for consistency?

    Thanks as always for your input!
     
  9. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I second the point about internal consistency. Very important.

    Play it straight. Don't coddle the reader or point and nudge "look at this, it's paranormal!". When something supernatural happens, be matter-of-fact about it. Make sure the characters believe it, and act like it's really happening, and then your readers will buy it.
     
  10. Mjolnir
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    Mjolnir Member

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    Don't sell yourself short. If you have a subject you'd like to write about, but don't feel you have a firm knowledge base, then do some research. Familiarize yourself with the topic. You obviously have internet access, so this couldn't be simpler. As for convincing your readers of something, try convincing yourself first. If you believe in your story it will show in the writing and others will believe as well.
     
  11. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    Mjolnir - thanks. Maybe I will. My sister is a doctor, so I could pump her for info and also have her critique facts and language. I'm just not sure about legal stuff and police procedure, but I could research those. I sure read enough and watch enough on t.v. I just thought I shouldn't write about something I wasn't totally familiar with. When I read Tess Gerritsen or John Grisham, I believe what they're saying because she was an ME and he was a lawyer. But, I could perhaps do research and just not make it the emphasis of the story. I don't REALLY know how a cop will act in a situation even if I do research unless I go and do ride-alongs with cops to see. That's something I don't think I could research as well. But, hey, we'll see.


    Also, as for stating things matter-of-factly, that's an important point to consider. Just pretend they're real and my readers will believe it. Simple - obvious even, but a great point I didn't think of. Thanks for the input!
     
  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    This, together with some research, is all you'll need to write a good medical thriller. It really isn't so much about medicine (or law, or policing) as it is about the human nature, like all stories, imo.

    If only doctors and lawyers wrote medical and legal thrillers, there would be very few of them around. These are very busy professions and most books are not written by people who do the jobs they write about. So if I were you, I wouldn't worry about this at all.

    I only once sat in with detectives, for about a week or so, and I wasn't spending much time with them, just some of the time, but together with books about police procedure for writers, I have a pretty good idea how a detective might think. So it actually doesn't take much. Of course, the more you know, the more accurate you'll be, but the thing is, if you know something well, you'll probably find it too boring to write about. I know I do.
     
  13. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    You can make a person believe anything as long as you provide some explanation, a believable setting, realistic characters. And even if the person doesn't believe in something in real life (ghosts and demons, for example), they'll still love your story. Chances are if someone is reading your genre, they're already into the theme and they're not going to double check every single fact you mention.

    For example, I watched a movie where zombies were a cause of mutated rabies or something. I really didn't care how ridiculous that sounds, I still watched the movies.
     
  14. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    I forgot about books for police procedure for writers! That could be really helpful. I know my sister is into forensics (she's a vet but doing a Ph.D. in forensic anthroplogy) and she's taken classes with cops on things like hatchet murders (not kidding!) and what bugs will do to a dead body (yuk!). I should embrace the challenge and stop thinking of ways to avoid using cops in my story.

    My latest idea for a MC who is NOT a cop (it seems all the books I'm interested in have the main character as some type of investigator) is to have a character with another profession become a novice investigative journalist for the local paper. That way, if she doesn't do everything the way an experienced one would, it is believable.

    By the way, this weekend I got into reading the blurbs on the back of many best-sellers online in the genre I enjoy (mystery/thriller/suspense) and almost every main character was a cop of some sort. I think that's where I really struggle. Trying to write in the genre without having the MC as a cop. Perhaps a side character, but I don't always want my story to center around police procedure.

    Anyway, I digress. What the heck were we even saying ?! :)

    Ah, yes. To make it believable, I think I need to research at least the basics and go from there. Stay away from things I'm uncomfortable with? Not sure yet. I tried to write something recently totally out of my style using research, and I'm not sure how it came out. I put it in the Short Story / General Fiction Thread (Legacy of the Odin Cipher), but I didn't get a lot of comments, so maybe it didn't go over well? It's hard to judge your own work sometimes, ya know?
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    by being a good, skillful writer... period!
     
  16. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    And that I'm trying to do. And to teach myself. I just signed up for a writer's convention for a few weeks from now in my area, and I paid extra to have a story of mine that was just rejected from a magazine (my first rejection) critiqued. It's hard to get valuable feedback sometimes (although I do on here :). I got no feedback from the magazine (I would like to know if the story itself was bad or it just didn't fit or they already filled the slots, but they just flat out rejected it, which left me in the dark). I'm trying to learn the "skills" through reading about writing and just reading what I consider good writing (which I do anyway). I have a series of books I'm going through on creating conflict, mood, characters, settings, etc... that I'm finding infinitely valuable, so hopefully that will point me in a more positive and useful direction.
     

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