So You Want to Write YA Paranormal?

Photo credit: alandberning on Flickr
What is it? 

Angels, demons, fairies, occult, vampires, werewolves, witches, shapeshifters, grim reapers, ghosts and just about anything else that’s not quite human are all within the paranormal realm.

A few exceptions include aliens, which are Sci-Fi, and Greek gods, which tend to be viewed as mythology/fantasy. Oftentimes, there’s a romance involved (though that’s not mandatory) and there’s nearly always tons of action—which is part of the reason I love it so much. :)

Pros/Cons of Writing YA Paranormal: 


  • Tons of variety. When most people think of paranormal, they tend to jump straight to vampires, but that’s just one option available in this huge world that is YA Paranormal. The list I had above include just some of the options available to paranormal writers—the possibilities really are endless. For example, one of my CPs wrote a pretty awesome YA Paranormal about Dreamcatchers who fight Nightmares, which is releasing later this year—like I said, there are loads of possibilities. 

  • Everyday life with a (huge) twist. This is the other part of paranormal novels that I adore—more times than not, the books are set up so that it seems like our everyday world, except for this often hidden element of whatever flavor of paranormal the book has. Many paranormal books even operate under the assumption that the paranormal aspect is there, but most people don’t know about it, which I personally love, because it allows me to imagine that paranormal stuff operates IRL. 

  • Exciting reads. Paranormal books tend to have pretty exciting plots, because the element that makes them paranormal also tends to be rather dangerous. If you like to write fast-paced novels, YA Paranormal definitely qualifies. 


  • Very tough market. I’ve already written about dead genres here, so I won’t go into that again, but YA Paranormal is very much considered a dead genre. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to sell or find representation for a YA Paranormal manuscript, but it’s definitely tough. If you have a great idea for a YA Paranormal manuscript, however, I don’t think this should deter you from writing it—it’s just good to be aware of the state of the market. 

  • Some stigma. The whole Twilight effect is still in play with paranormal, so many people tend to automatically equate YA Paranormal with Twilight and make judgments. This is especially true if your book has vampires or werewolves (which is a shame, because there are plenty of awesome vampire novels out there). Again, this shouldn’t deter you if you’re passionate about YA Paranormal, but chances are you’ll encounter this when you tell people what you write. 

Recommended Reading: 

As I’ve said before, reading in the genre you’re writing is not optional. No really.

Note: While I haven’t read all of these, the ones I haven’t read I either want to read, have heard good things about, or were rating highly on Goodreads (or all three).

For more books, Goodreads has a whole section dedicated to paranormal books, with breakdowns for each category (angels, ghosts, werewolves, etc.) and a list dedicated solely to YA Paranormal

Helpful Links: 

Do you enjoy reading or writing YA Paranormal? Share your experience! 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Thinking about writing YA Paranormal? Writer @Ava_Jae shares some tips, recommendations and more. (Click to tweet
Do you write YA Paranormal? Share your experience at @Ava_Jae's So You Want to Write series. (Click to tweet)


S.E Dee said...

Oh wow, I'm actually able to comment again. Disqus was not working fr me for the longest time.
I write a lot dystopian slant books so I know the feeling of writing in a dead genre. Sadly, writing something different isn't any easier either!

Ava Jae said...

Yep, I totally understand. It's not easy writing in a dead genre, but to be honest, it's difficult no matter what, which is why I tend to advise to write what you love...just be aware of what you're up against.

Also, sorry Disqus has been mean to you. >:(

Robin Red said...

So how about Laini Taylor? Isn't she amazing? Ava, what's the big difference between urban fantasy and paranormal?

Ava Jae said...

Well, this is embarrassing. I haven't read Laini Taylor yet—YET. But I just recently bought DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE and it's next on my TBR list. :)

As for the difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal, I have to do more research on UF, but as I understand it, the urban setting takes precedence. But they're pretty close.

Katie S. Taylor said...

Great post, and dead on. I write in the paranormal and urban fantasy genre for the most part, and I love it. It's definitely hard landing representation for it, but I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I'm hoping it makes a huge comeback, and not because I write it. More so because I love to read it. :)

~Katie S. Taylor

Shannon A. Thompson said...

Thank you for sharing my post about creating the paranormal. This is a wonderful post to read. As a YA, paranormal author who has had success, I’m glad you still encouraged writers of the genre to continue despite stigmas.

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Katie! I love reading and writing paranormal as well—there's so much variety and it's just a ton of fun to play with. I hope it makes a comeback too! :)

Ava Jae said...

You're very welcome! I'm a fan of YA Paranormal, so I was more than happy to share. :)

Michelle Irwin said...

I write paranormal, more NA (just cause I love the extra freedom that the slightly aged-up genre gives in terms of both relationships and I guess you'd say gore). I honestly don't think it would matter if I could never sell a book because it's a dead genre I'd still write it. It's what makes me tick, for many of the reasons you listed above. I love the thought of these secrets and real magic bubbling along just below the surface of real life and just needing to be the lucky--or unlucky I guess, depending on the story--one who stumbles across it. I also love the wide variety of myths and creatures which can feature in a story. My series has a protagonist who is something that hasn't been done often in books and I love being able to find that fresh angle and twist the genre with it.

Ava Jae said...

Yes! I completely agree—paranormal is so fun to read and write. Dead genre or not, it'll always hold a special place in my heart. :)

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