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Posted May 11, 2011
Fun, informative read.
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I first opened this book. The cover looked somber, and I guess I expected a similar tone. What I found instead was Harper's delightful sense of humor, which provided several giggles throughout this helpful, well-crafted book. If you ever wanted to know what Superhero Creep, Tomato Surprises, and "As you know, Bob" moments are, this is the book for you.
One of the biggest strengths of Paranormal Novel is Harper's repeated use of certain examples to illustrate his points. By the second or third time he's using an example, it makes no difference whether or not I've read that novel before. I'm familiar with the premise, the characters, and perhaps even the writer's style. This means I can just breeze through the example without mental readjustment and grab onto the point Harper is making.
The book as a whole is well-organized by topic, and then broken down into logical subheadings. Harper covers basic writing mechanics, then explains these functions through a paranormal lens. Sure, we'll talk about the importance of a hook. Every writing craft book does. But what should be included in your hook for your book about the epic battle between fairies and vampires? It's important to maintain consistency in any novel, but how much more so when you're creating a system of magic from scratch? Though the book contains some mild language, Harper handles the issue of supernatural swearing pretty delicately, and I have to say I appreciated that.
Bottom Line: If you're writing in any sort of speculative genre, this book is helpful. While Harper sticks mainly to stories described as paranormal or urban fantasy, I found a lot of helpful information for my alternate-reality fantasy, and I think the same would hold true for high fantasy authors and perhaps even sci-fi. Harper's tone is enjoyable and engaging. The book is well-written, well-edited, and worth a read. Note: Writer's Digest provided me with a copy of Writing the Paranormal Novel for reviewing purposes.
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