Paranormal vs Supernatural. That topic can be confusing to some and many have varying ideas what each mean in relationship to books. Let’s take a look at both and see what we can figure out. I started by checking the dictionary and wasn’t surprised to see the word supernatural in the list to describe paranormal and the word paranormal used to describe supernatural. Does that mean they are the same? I don’t think so.
I write what I like to call supernatural thrillers. They border on horror since many contain spirits, but I don’t write about demons, etc. and stop short of describing my work as horror. They are supernatural since they contain characters that are not alive and are basically evil.
I think I shy away from the word paranormal for my work because I see paranormal as having more fantasy or romance in the work and mine does not contain fantasy and very little romance. I also see the YA Paranormal section in the library which contains rows of fantasy books. Books which will take you to the past, another realm, world, or fictional present are listed in the paranormal section. My books would not fit into that category.
Supernatural also means more than eerie or weird. A story about angels might be described as supernatural. Some may say angels should be thought of as religious, but many prefer supernatural. I think it would depend on the story line. A story about the afterlife could be considered religious while a story of a fallen angel might be considered paranormal.
We would normally consider vampires and werewolves to be supernatural creatures that fall into the realm of horror stories. This is where the lines can become blurry between the different genres and sub-genres.
An entirely different class would be fairies, sprites, elves, flying dragons, trolls, mermaids, etc. How would we classify them? They are fantasy creatures, but would they be paranormal or supernatural. In my opinion, these would best fit into the paranormal category since they are fantasy creatures. Yet, many of these fantasy creatures can be found in other genres including horror.
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning creatures that are dreamed up in the novelist’s mind. These creatures could be anything from a tiny happiness fairy that sprinkles fairy dust on sad people to make their wishes come true to a giant triple headed beast with twelve eyes that loves to rip any living creature apart in the most violent ways.
The more I write, the more I am drawing the conclusion that supernatural and paranormal walk a very thin line. It may all be in the eye of the novelist and reader. Which word would attract the type of reader the writer is looking for? As for all the creatures, I think they can easily cross the line, too. A fantasy story can be turned into a horror story with the changing of the plot line and a few scenes and vice versa.
For my work, I am going to stick with supernatural. I like the way it sounds, it is what I have always used and I don’t care for change. For those of you writing paranormal stories please continue. People will love them and read them. I have read some and enjoyed what I have read.
Image Courtesy of: Livescience