Understanding Supernatural and Paranormal Fiction Genres

When you visit a bookstore near you and browse through all the new releases, you’ll have plenty of choices. There would be lots of fiction and non-fiction books, including short stories and graphic novels. However, there are many readers who are interested in reading novels that belong to the supernatural and paranormal genres.

These two genres are closely associated with each other, but they’re quite different in some aspects. Here, we’ll try to understand the difference between these two genres.

Supernatural fiction

This genre involves elements that mostly operate outside the rules of the world that we live in. They can’t be understood by applying scientific principles or logic. Supernatural fiction generally deals with matters related to god, the archangels, resurrection, and souls. The sub-genres of supernatural fiction include supernatural horror fiction. Let’s take the work of H.P. Lovecraft for instance.

His books are usually based around the idea of cosmicism. It suggests that in the vast cosmos, humanity is rather insignificant. The humans could be wiped out at any moment. Lovecraft was popular for incorporating elements of science fiction and fantasy into his stories. Cosmicism was also his personal philosophy and a vital theme in his works of fiction.

Another example of supernatural fiction would be the Gothic ghost stories. You can also take other supernatural thrillers that come under the horror genre. We can take Frankenstein as a case study here. Although it includes elements of the Romantic and Gothic novels, many regard it as the first true science-fiction.

The central character of the story takes a deliberate decision. Then he turns to modern lab experiments to achieve the desired result. The novel Frankenstein greatly influenced the world of literature and popular culture.

Paranormal fiction

This genre of literary fiction generally includes creatures that are popular in fairy tales and folklore. Some of the examples of such creatures include aliens, fairies, undead, and the shapeshifters. Paranormal fiction has supernatural beings and phenomena that cannot be explained with the help of science. In other words, they’re usually beyond the realm of the natural world that we live in.

Its sub-genres are paranormal romance, fantasy romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal fantasy. This genre has given many New York Times best-selling audiobooks and hardcovers in recent times. The storylines generally focus on characters who are young adults and fall in love with a paranormal being.

Difference between supernatural and paranormal fiction

There are many who use supernatural and paranormal fiction genres interchangeably. These genres also have a close association with each other. Despite this, there are subtle differences between the two. The term ‘paranormal’ refers to the phenomena or beings that are beyond the realm of scientific understanding. It also suggests that science could potentially explain those phenomena or beings one day.

You’ll come across zombies, aliens, werewolves, and ghosts in the paranormal genre. It also includes phenomena such as time travel and telepathy. Supernatural refers to phenomena that are always beyond the realm of scientific explanation. The examples would be god, souls, and afterlife.

About fantasy novels

Fantasy novels generally include supernatural creatures and elements of the paranormal. The ideal examples would be J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. In the literary world, the debate still goes on about the contemporary fantasy genres. The debate is whether they fall into the category of supernatural or paranormal or not.

Understanding Supernatural and Paranormal Fiction Genres

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