Also continuing the trend, while I have a guest blogger here, I'm over at Magical Words today talking about "Of Quirks and Characters." However, I will be here tomorrow, so tune in.
THERE'S TRUTH, AND THEN THERE'S REALITY...by Marjorie M. Liu
Look, there was this time in high school when my class went sea kayaking, and on the second day or so, after we'd been battling a hurricane and sharks and each other, we ended up on this island where each of us had to help out cooking dinner on these awful little stoves that only made enough to serve each of us starving kids a mouthful of burned macaroni and cheese (which we were grateful for, crazy kids), and then afterward we had to sit around and listen to our wilderness instructor tell stories about dog poop and freezers, and Halloween costumes that looked like penises (because that was the way he rolled), which was bad enough except that night it rained and we were cold and smelled -- but at least we didn't get eaten by the werewolves who lived on a neighboring island, so I guess it was okay.
Until the next morning.
And that's how I approach writing paranormal fiction. Truth mixed with the crazy.
Let's put it another way: I like to keep stuff real. Real, in the sense that the magic, the paranormal aspect, is accepted and normal (to someone, not necessarily everyone). I mean, think about airplanes. We take them for granted. We climb inside, fly up into the air to travel huge distances around the world. To us, it's normal. We might not know exactly how it works, but it does, and it's nothing to get excited about (unless TSA is about to pat you down).
In another age, however...flying in an aircraft would seem like magic. Heck, sometimes it still does.
It seems like magic when you read how some snails can sleep for three years -- or that the light of the stars takes millions of years to reach us -- or that a little bit of water, sun, and air can nourish a plant that will make fruits and vegetables that feed people. It's not magic, but it feels like magic. Life *is* magic, in its own way.
Point is, though, it's *real*. It feels real -- easy and accepted, like it belongs -- and that's so important to helping readers accept the paranormal in your fiction.
How do you get there? How do you make it real? I wish I had an easy answer, but the truth is that you just need to feel it. Try to put yourself into the shoes of the characters, breathe the air of that world, imagine all the ramifications of the paranormal, strange, and magical. What's the cause and effect? How do people adapt, in the same way that we adapt to planes and television, or some act of nature, like a tornado? How do people recover from contact with the paranormal? What are the precautions, the laws, the stereotypes?
These are just a handful of the questions you could ask yourself, and there are a million others. Do what it takes, though. Follow your instincts.
Keep it real. Mix your truth with the crazy, and make some magic.