Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy discussion

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Paranormal Romance > Help A Romance Newbie Out - What Makes PNR?

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message 1: by Troy (new)

Troy Tang | 11 comments Hi people, my name's Troy - I popped up in the Introductions thread a day or so ago, and I'm very glad to see how welcoming you folks are. Many thanks to Elizabeth and Kitty for their kind replies. :)

To those who don't know me, I'm a bit of an inadvertent newcomer to the romance world - I don't really read it, I don't really watch it, I don't actually know what romance readers like. My shocking ignorance came around to bite me when my first novel (soon-to-be released) became a lighthearted magical romance for absolutely no reason.

With that in mind, I figured I'd pick the brains of my betters. To those long-time readers of PNR, I have several questions:

1) What makes PNR special as opposed to vanilla romance or vanilla fantasy?
2) Do you like your magical world to be well-defined and rigorously fleshed-out like in standard fantasy, or do you prefer a more modern setting that's easier to relate to, only with a touch of magic?
3) What do you look for in a female lead? If she's magical or more than human, how special should she be?
4) What do you look for in a male lead? If he's magical or more than human, how special should he be?
5) In your view, what's the difference between paranormal romance and fantasy romance?

Thanks so much to anyone who decides to chip in, and please, feel free to wrest the discussion away from me! :)


message 2: by Oleander (last edited Jun 23, 2018 12:22AM) (new)

Oleander | 92 comments Hi Troy and welcome to the group. Best wishes for your upcoming book.

1) PNR is special because it has an edginess and sense of danger that isn't found in normal romance. Unexpected things can happen. It is often darker and the men are more sexually intense. Despite the dangers and whatever goals are being sought, the focus is on the development of the romantic relationship. Still the best PNR has strong and original plot lines.
2)My favorite PNR has a lot of Urban Fantasy crossover. It is set in the modern world but paranormal creatures and perhaps some magic also exist. For more light-hearted romances, only a touch of magic is needed such as a charm or curse to set things in motion.
3) Female leads in PNR vary greatly. They can be totally human or supernatural. Many can kick butt. I like a woman who is self confident, capable, intelligent and resourceful. She should be a worthy mate of the male, not just physically attractive. And snarky. Snarky is good imo. How magical just depends on what kind of story you are writing.
4) Males should either have their act totally together or be emotionally damaged in such a way that the love of the woman redeems him. Preferably both at the same time. He should also be Confident, capable, protective, sexy, and butt-kicking. Usually the men are werewolves, shapeshifters, or vampires but if you have a creative idea go for it. I've read books of fairy lords and gargoyles that were written as male leads.
5) I think of fantasy as being a completely different world from our own, with different rules (magic), creatures, and surroundings. Fantasy has some sort of quest that is of great importance in addition to the romance.. PNR has some of those elements but the focus is all on the romance. It can be set anywhere, any time period, and it has happy endings.

Hope my answers help. I'm sure others will have lots to say about this too.


message 3: by Troy (new)

Troy Tang | 11 comments Thanks so much for your welcome and your detailed answers, Oleander! They're very helpful, and quite enlightening. The sense of danger in particular is something I didn't factor in up until now, but it makes perfect sense when I think about it. I have lots more questions, but I don't want to swarm the thread, so I'll hold up for now. Can't wait for others to chime in!


message 4: by SaDeAn (new)

SaDeAn | 2 comments Oleander wrote: "Hi Troy and welcome to the group. Best wishes for your upcoming book.

1) PNR is special because it has an edginess and sense of danger that isn't found in normal romance. Unexpected things can ha..."


I think this is a superb set of answers. There is nothing that I would contradict or change, so my response is purely to add to this great list.

1. Things that cannot happen in normal circumstances are allowed in PNR. The acceptable standards for behavior are bent and allow for events or character actions to go outside the norm. Things that would be ghastly in the normal world can be forgiven or even encouraged depending on the context with a PNR. For example, a vampire H nearly killing the h upon meeting her by draining her blood, then stalking her because he cannot give her up - this makes sense in PNR while near death/stalking is usually frowned upon in vanilla stories.

2. The more defined the world, if it differs from our own, the more I expect from the PNR, which often means it will be a series. If this is a stand-alone novel, then changing only a few elements of our society might be enough. If it will be a 3-5+ series, then more time might be expected or needed to make it believable.

3. Female leads must be strong unto themselves. They do not need to be magical, but there needs to be some aspect about them which makes them special. This is one of the hardest things to get right (imo) as she needs to be interesting, but there also must be a need for the two to be together. I really like when the h and the H can partner together and each is made stronger by the relationship in the end. (I also like snarky as long as she is more than all talk.)

4. Males are usually magical in some way. I've read a few where the H was mortal and it was the h who was magical and these can be good, though are more rare. My main preference is that he be worthy of my interest. If I do not like him in some way, then I'm unlikely to finish the book as I do not want the romance to work out. I really like Oleander's response to this question.

5. I think it relates to the darkness or grit tone of the story. I think there are also fewer restrictions for PNR as it could have fantasy, sci-fi or, my favorite, steam punk elements.

I hope this is helpful!


message 5: by Troy (last edited Jun 25, 2018 05:47AM) (new)

Troy Tang | 11 comments Thanks for your answers, SaDeAn! Looks like you both agree on the limits of acceptable danger being much higher in PNR, and an active heroine seems to be a must. ;) Just to confirm, H is Hero and h is heroine, right? I'm guessing here, so please correct me if I'm wrong.


message 6: by SaDeAn (new)

SaDeAn | 2 comments Troy wrote: "Thanks for your answers, SaDeAn! Looks like you both agree on the limits of acceptable danger being much higher in PNR, and an active heroine seems to be a must. ;) Just to confirm, H is Hero and h..."

Yes! Apologies for my short hand. "H" is for hero and "h" for heroine.

Good luck!!


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