YA 101: Paranormal Romance

Ahh, I think I just heard lots of sighs.

There’s nothing like a great YA paranormal romance.  The genre is one of the hottest selling categories in the Young Adult section.  Let’s face it…women and teen girls drive the book market.  What does the fairer sex enjoy?  Romance.  Lots and lots of romance.  Throw in a sweet guy who would go to the ends of the earth for his lady…the author’s got you hooked.

So what are the elements of YA Paranormal Romance that has some readers begging for more than a good old-fashioned tale of romance?

Many of us, myself included, read to escape realism.  We deal with it every day.  Why would I want to read about it even more when I’m trying to escape my daily routine?  With paranormal romance, I’m quenching my thirst for romance while adding a twist I can’t find in reality.

As the genre implies, “paranormal” would include plot lines/characters  places, things, outside of the realm of ordinary.  Psychics. Inexplicable phenomena.  Time travel.  Ghosts.  Faeries. Knights.  Wizards.  Anything outside our normal earth boundaries, space and time.  I believe there are three additional elements necessary for a great paranormal romance, and I think that is why the Twilight series did so well.  While the writing left a lot to be desired (in my opinion), the story itself touched a place within us that made us believe the improbable can happen, the impossible can come to life and, if you trust in the magic, the imaginable can open your heart to pure, fantastical love…a type of love that defies human sensibilities…a love that crosses human understanding.

There are several tips to remember when writing a paranormal romance:

  • make it unique and original.  If you look at agent’s websites, they’re asking for stories outside the standard werewolf/vampire/human love triangle.  They want something new.  Fresh.
  • create believable mythology.  Toy with breaking the molds but not so far people refuse to suspend belief.  I think that is one reason I didn’t enjoy Twilight as much as others.  Vampires don’t sparkle in sunlight.  In fact, sunlight is very dangerous for vampires.  No matter how hard I tried to accept Meyer’s spin on the old stories, I couldn’t suspend that one belief.
  • Create a strong female heroine.  You can start her out as weak, scared so long as you allow the paranormal aspect to help her grow and become the kick-butt heroine she needs to be.
  • Make your hero downright gorgeous.  That doesn’t necessarily mean in looks (though that helps because us women love our dream guys), but he needs to have some sort of amazing qualities we don’t find in human men.  Think of eyes.  Maybe they have vertical slits like a cat’s.  Maybe they have wings.  Maybe they have bad boy qualities that are hard to resist because he puts off an intoxicating odor.  Let your imagination run wild.  Don’t be shy.  Make sure your hero has a dark, brooding, paranormal side but also harbors goodness that perhaps only your heroine can see.
  • Conflict.  You have to have conflict.  Triangles have been done over and over again.  Try to be original.  Think outside the box, but make sure reality and and fantasy collide.
  • Make sure your villain is dark and cruel.  He is usually seductive and will do anything and everything to obtain his goal.  He must be the symbol of everything your hero and heroine are fighting against.
  • There must be a happily ever after.  Women don’t want to read about romantic stories that fall apart.  We want romance that will last through the ages, through time, until the end of all eternity.

What are some really great YA Paranormal Romance reads?




14 thoughts on “YA 101: Paranormal Romance

    1. I haven’t read them but my sister-in-law is hooked and has been trying for a while to get me to read them. I have to admit…I’m not a big vampire person but I should give them a try.


  1. If I can add one more, I’d say don’t give your characters a life outside of each other and don’t have them fall in love with each other too fast. But then again, I see the exact opposite of this in a lot of paranormal romance novels I’ve come across.

    Let me clarify: I think it’s fine for the characters to be attracted to each other when they first meet. I think everyone wants to believe when they’ll know Mr./Mrs. Right as soon as they meet them. But that doesn’t mean the characters have to be at the “I would die for you if need be” stage within the first few pages of the novel. I’d rather see the romance grow. I want to see legitimate obstacles, especially if the romance conflicts with one of the characters main objectives (going back to the characters having a life outside of each other).

    Famous example, Beauty and the Beast. While they didn’t have the attraction at first sight element, they did have to work on their relationship before they became completely enthralled with one another. That kind of romance stands out to me as more memorable.


    1. I think this works in adult paranormal romance. Teens, as you know, want it now. I do think the relationship needs to grow and it takes a good author to pace the relationship to keep the interest of the young reader while still giving them the ‘now’ factor. Thank you for your insightful response. I love it and I agree with it completely! 🙂


      1. Where I agree that teens “want it now” I think I agree with B.P. that a little “chase” is noteworthy. If one falls in love a little faster than the other, or they are both in love and one plays a little hard to get (only for a good reason) those can be great conflicts that keep the pages turning.


      2. Yes, how I could forget the now factor? Also, stretching it out too much can make the romance melodramatic. I’ll have to give my own writing a second look now to see how well I balance both. And thank you for creating this post.


  2. Personally, I loved the Percy Jackson series. The movie left a lot to be desired, but loved the books. The Trylle series has been enjoyable as well, although it took me half way through the first book to really begin to sink into it. I’m sure I have plenty more, lol, just can’t think of them all at the moment. 😛


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