When world building for a paranormal romance novel, how you craft the setting itself is a critical choice. Do you use the familiarity of well-known cities, or do you develop and share an entire fantasy realm with your readers?
Your decision will largely depend on your strengths and your passions, much like your voice and writing style.
At first glance, the advantages of using known cityscapes and time frames to build the world of a paranormal romance novel seem rather obvious: An established city or country is easily researched (thank you, Internet). A familiar place should require fewer cues to engage and hold the reader.
Who hasn’t looked at New Orleans a bit differently after reading a Kenyon Dark Hunter novel or a Handeland Nightcreature novel? However, with well known settings, you must keep your characters, unique as they are, moving in believable ways through the landscape.
On the other hand, using nothing but your imagination can be a lot of fun before and during the writing process. Starting from scratch, world building for a paranormal romance novel can be its own brand of research.
Maybe you can see it all, from the twin suns rising in the west to the alien life forms living underground who smell like chocolate. You can’t wait to share this world with brave new readers and that detailed vision will come alive on the page, enriching the experience.
Of course there’s always the potential for combination when building a unique world for a paranormal romance novel. Take a familiar city, but toss it into the future or the past. Have the years been kind or cruel? How did it get this way? And most importantly, how will the changes affect your character and your reader’s expectations and experience?
Whether you choose real world, fantasy, or a combination of settings, make the world you build for a paranormal romance novel a place readers will want to revisit time and again.
Live the adventure!