Previously, we celebrated the worst tropes in paranormal fiction, so you know what that means! Time to talk about the best of the best! I'm super excited about this topic, not only because I adore paranormal fiction, but because it was requested by one of my patrons over on Patreon! Alex E. really enjoyed my list of the worst tropes in paranormal fiction and wanted to see the other side of the coin. They've been a patron for a super long time, they are always awesome to talk to, so I was happy to oblige! Now, let's get to the paranormal tropes!
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Number 1: Demons
Sometimes demons are in fantasy books. Sometimes they're in paranormal books. Wherever they are, I don't care! I love ’em! I really enjoy books that explore the underworld, so whenever paranormal stories feature demons, I'm here for it. Bring out the horns and pitchforks! I like demons ’cause they're dark, they're evil, and you see them in all kinds of different belief systems. And they always come from some version or variation of hell, which is fun! Give me the prospect of demons, and you have my attention.
Number 2: Religion
I mentioned in the past that one of my favorite elements of fantasy fiction is the creation of new and unique religions. But what I really enjoy about paranormal fiction is the exploration of existing religions. A lot of paranormal books feature the afterlife in some way, so typically religion pops up, and I think it's really interesting to see how different authors navigate these belief systems. I also like that in paranormal fiction, it's often less about preaching a particular message and more about examining history and culture. A lot of paranormal writers will feature both the positive and negative sides of religion. You'll see corrupt priests or merciless gods and goddesses. Shit gets juicy! I enjoy the cultural elements of history, and paranormal fiction definitely delivers on that front.
Number 3: Folklore
I love a good dissection of folklore. That shit gets me pumped! Every society has its own boogeyman, and what's creepy about ’em is these stories didn't come from nothing. There has to be some reason why people started talking about or creating these monsters. Sometimes it's to evoke cultural change, other times it's to explain away instances that they couldn't rationalize themselves. The fact that folklore often stems from some of the more mysterious elements of history makes these paranormal stories all the more effective. You get chills because you know this monster! You've heard of it! And you start to question where fiction ends and reality begins . . .
Number 4: Ancient Beings in a Modern World
A lot of paranormal creatures are ancient or immortal like ghosts or vampires, and it is the perfect comedic opportunity to explore a 1,000-year-old being adjusting to modern culture. I feel like a lot of paranormal authors don't take advantage of this so when they do, I am hyped! What would a Victorian-era ghost think of smartphones? I want to see a centuries-old vampire say, “Yeet!”
Number 5: When the Monsters Are Monsters
The paranormal genre is now famous for sexing up monsters. Yay . . . But sometimes I just want the monsters to be monsters! Sometimes I want vampires to be ugly and scary and murderous, and not horny. Sometimes I want a Wolfman to not be a lumberjack Abercrombie model. I want him to be hairy and disgusting and to rip out someone's throat with his teeth. One of the things I enjoy most about werewolf fiction is that come the full moon, this person cannot control their instincts at all. They don't wanna be a murderous animal, but once they morph . . . Too bad, buddy! Ya gonna murder! This for me is usually a lot more engaging than werewolves who fuck under the full moon, so if we can bring back the monster element, that would be great!
Number 6: When the Monsters Are Humans
People suck, am I right? As much as I love monsters being monsters, I also equally love when the monsters who are typically villainized are, for lack of a better term, the good guys, and human beings end up being the assholes of the story. Because let's be real, it checks out. Human beings have enslaved one another. Human beings have created arbitrary standards of bigotry. Human beings have destroyed the entire planet that they live on, and for some reason, we’re the good guys? I don't think so! I think it's really smart when writers use “monsters” to explore the monstrous behaviors of humankind. It's creative and clever and I'm here for it!
Number 7: The Monster Protector
Monsters are gonna be a thing on this list. It's paranormal fiction, after all. I really love it when a scary horrific monster happens to be the sole protector of one of the main characters. Bonus points if the character is a cinnamon roll or a child. There's something about the pairing of a giant, murderous hell beast and the human incarnation of a puppy dog that warms my heart. Plus, when the monster goes full carnage mode, you'll be cheering them on because that marshmallow needs to be protected at all costs! Smash a violent monster and a little sweet pea together and I'm a happy camper!
Number 8: Familiars
I really enjoy animal companions. The problem is authors tend to kill them. Fuck you! But for some reason in paranormal fiction, at least the paranormal fiction I've read, animals don't seem to have as high of a mortality rate. The people, on the other hand, are totally screwed. But we don't like people, anyway. I also enjoy the fact that familiars tend to come in a wider variety of animals as opposed to the usual animal companions. One of my favorite familiars is the rat, especially when it's presented in a positive light. I like rats! They're smart and cute. So all that Scabbers bullshit really didn't work on me. You already knew they were gonna demonize that animal the minute they named it “Scabbers,” anyway.
Number 9: Gray Characters
Paranormal is another one of those amazing genres where pretty much all the characters are pieces of shit. The monsters kill people. The ghosts haunt people, and the humans are monster fuckers. It's all gross. It makes sense for the genre, ’cause when we're dealing with supernatural entities and life-or-death situations, the line between good and evil is gonna get a little blurry. Even good people are gonna have to do bad things in order to survive and protect, and that is fun to read! It also makes for juicy drama and fascinating complexities, because people are constantly pulling shadies and fuckin’ shit up. Can't enjoy a plotline without some good old-fashioned ambiguous evildoing!
Number 10: Death
I feel like death is a prerequisite for paranormal fiction. Either the creatures involved are somehow dead or they bring about the death of millions. Vampires? Dead. Ghosts? Also dead. Werewolves? Make people dead. And you know what? I think that's lovely! Fiction is the only place where death is fun and enjoyable. There are no personal stakes or repercussions because you're just sittin’ on your ass reading a book. So we get to explore death and the endless possibilities it offers without grieving the death of a loved one or going to jail for murder. Thanks, paranormal fiction, you're the best!
So that's all I've got for you today!
A huge thank you to Alex for requesting today's topic! If you'd like the chance to have a video dedicated to you, or if you want access to tons of other awards, check me out on Patreon! We've got an exclusive writing group! We have early access to videos! There's a monthly live stream and signed merch! All of the information is available here.
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