Recently, I began writing a paranormal romance series. That’s when the question of how to do so became incredibly pertinent to me, and I thought I’d share how I approached it.
Am I an expert on paranormal romance? Not even close.
Have I read enough paranormal romances that if we stacked the books up on top of each other, they could potentially fall down and crush us all? You bet.
See this post on witchy Nora Roberts trilogies for further proof.
I love the subgenre and have since I was young, but I hesitate to call myself an expert because it’s a huge category. It encapsulates stories about werebeasts, shifters, fairies, witches, ghosts, chosen ones, magical academies, time travel, vampires, hauntings, demons, immortals, gods and goddesses, mythical questions, dark lords, and like a billion other things too.
Basically, I don’t think anyone has the time to become an expert in the subgenre as a whole, but maybe in a very specific niche.
So, with that, I thought I’d share how I’m learning to write a paranormal romance series. It’s been working so far, and I must confess…
…I may be working on 3 series as we speak.
How to Write a Paranormal Romance Series
These are my tips for how to write a paranormal romance series. You could probably take out “paranormal romance” and insert whatever other genre you’d like. It’s a good method.
001: Read a bunch of completed paranormal romance series.
The thing about writing a series is that you have to have a series arc. And an arc for each book in the series. And character arcs for the characters in each book in the series.
Basically, you need a lot. So it’s nice to see how other writers have done it. I’m not saying you should copy their style. But I am saying that you can take a look at how others have connected the dots to create a cohesive series.
Think about how long your series is. Try to find series that are comparably long. While a lot of traditionally published paranormal romance series stop at three or four books, the indie series will go on for sometimes ten or even more. So, pick accordingly.
002: Find what you think are the best paranormal romance series for adults.
I write for adults, so I wanted to know what works for an adult paranormal romance series. That doesn’t mean I can’t learn from a YA series, but it does mean that I will probably learn more from the adult books.
There are things that fly in adult series that don’t work for YA, and vice versa. So seeing how characters behave in an adult romance series is important to me.
003: What separates those books from their YA counterparts?
There are a lot of paranormal romance books for young adults, and a lot of them are so much more accessible because they’ve been turned into movies and TV shows, and that means that the books are also easier to find. But the tropes and conventions that work for those series don’t work as well for an adult series.
I like to take a look at adult and YA books side by side and see where they differ. In a lot of ways, they are similar, especially when it comes to the story beats. (Check out this post about my romance novel outline if you need some help with your story beats!)But the choices the characters make are usually where they differ, and how the love develops between characters is also different.
004: Do you like a paranormal romance series with the same characters?
Do you want to follow the same characters across a series? Do you want to have the same characters, but switch up who the main characters are as you move through the series? Finding examples of both types of series can help you determine what kind of book you’d like to write.
And it’s also important to think about if your book still meets the expectations of the subgenre after you’ve chosen. Typically, romance novels will follow two main characters, and a series will follow two different main characters in each book. Those characters are all probably connected by some kind of circumstance, but each book follows different characters. You are free to break from convention, but be aware that your readers may expect something else.
005: What paranormal elements do you like?
What elements of the series you’ve read do you enjoy? Which elements do you not enjoy? I typically don’t like dark fantasy in paranormal romance series. So, I’m not looking for evil creatures to kill the good guys. And if I’m being honest, I like really lower stakes fantasies. You know, the kind where everyone is having a good time and there’s some sort of magic going on in the background and everyone is getting swept up in it.
I love ghosts and witches and magic, and I don’t mind the occasional vampire or werewolf. But I’m not a super big fan of shifters or magic academies.
That said, I could totally be into those things if they were part of a very chill, low stakes magical story.
006: What will set your series apart from the rest?
So, I mentioned all the various types of creatures and plots and magic you could have in a paranormal romance. And readers expect to see these sorts of things. But you have to make your books unique. What sets your books apart from others in the subgenre, and what can readers get from you that they can’t get anywhere else?
This may sound like a loaded question, but it’s pretty simple. Remember that you are you, and you write like you. What is it about your style that makes readers come back? What kind of details do you think of? What elements do you enjoy writing? That will help you think about what your stories will have that readers can’t get anywhere else. I like to think about why I read and write romance, and that usually helps me see my story strengths.
What Do You Look for in Paranormal Romance?
What makes a great paranormal romance series to you? What do you look for in paranormal romance? What’s your favorite series? What magical elements do you like the most?