Wednesday, December 14, 2011

As Seen On Twitter: An Intro and a Question

I'm staring something new around here! I'm not sure I'd call it a feature, but sort of I guess. Whatever it is, it's going to help me with discussion ideas, and I'm calling it As Seen on Twitter. (I tried to make a button. It'll do I think.)

First of all, let me restate (because I think I've said this before) that I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. This particular idea has bloomed from one of the things I love about it, and that is the stuff I see there oftentimes makes me think and ponder about an issue or question or idea which makes me want to expound on it, something not so easily done over there on Twitter.

But I can do it here!

And over here I'm hoping, of course, that you will comment and talk with me about whatever it is, which doesn't necessarily happen over there (one of the things I dislike about Twitter... trying to make myself "heard").

This is all assuming that ideas that are thrown out over on Twitter are free for the taking. Right? Am I right? Perhaps this should be a topic for discussion in and of itself? Is there such a thing as "stealing ideas" if you tweet them? If someone ponders something over there, can I take it and ponder it further over here? I've decided yes.

My plan is to use Twitter's favorite button much more often if something peaks my interest. Then I can easily link back to whoever gave me an idea... whether it be someone I know and follow, or someone I've never heard of before. This will also let me know which tweeters seem to always be saying interesting things! I would find that fun to track. Doing all this will make me interact more too, force me to click around on new blogs and get to know my followers and followees better! That's a good thing too.

So here's my first As Seen on Twitter, just for example!

This  morning @LizB (A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy) asked a question that we pondered at length awhile back in book club. What's the difference between the genres paranormal and supernatural?  Yeah I say! What IS the difference anyway?

Here are my very very simplified definitions:

Paranormal: a story about characters who are NOT normal... they are creatures who do not exist in our world such as vampires, werewolves and such.

Supernatural: a story about characters who are "normal" but have a supernatural power.... so they themselves might be found to exist in our world, but their powers would not such as Odd Thomas or the girl from Inkheart.

I think most books in these genres cross over a lot, thus the confusion. Someone replied on Twitter that paranormal has romance. I say, they both do. And usually they both have normal people with powers, and the paranormal creatures. So, the two really can't be separated.

So, how would you define them? Do you think I'm close or completely off? Ready, set, discuss!


  1. I like this idea. It will be fun to see what everyone says.

    I've been contemplating this too as I've been trying to clean up my shelves and tags on Goodreads and Shelfari.

    This is what I've come up with. Paranormal is something that can't be explained by science and things act outside of nature. This usually includes vampires, werewolves, mermaids, etc.

    Supernatural, on the other hand, also acts outside of nature, but in a more ethereal way. This usually encompasses deity, ghosts, angels, demons, etc.

    Then, you have those books that throw caution to the wind and are both paranormal and supernatural. So, would we call them paranormally supernatural? Or, supernaturally paranormal?

    I also agree about your assessment of supernatural. That the characters may have a supernatural power. So, Harry Potter would be supernatural.

    Honestly though, I still get them confused.

  2. this feature is a great idea!

    I like your definitions. I use them interchangeably, though I think paranormal to be more limited. I probably use paranormal more often because it sounds less corny to me than supernatural. when tagging a genre (when I feel I must) I just go with the one most popularly used in relation to the read. or I go either broader or more specific depending on the volume of reads I find myself (reading or reviewing). As I rarely shop either with any specificity, I'm probably too careless.


  3. I have never heard the second term used as a genre definition before in my life.

    My thoughts:

    The umbrella term "fantasy" denotes fiction involving things and places that cannot exist in our world: magic, superpowers, supernatural creatures, ghosts, etc.

    Within that umbrella genre are things like "high fantasy" (often called "other world fantasy") which are things like Tolkien, etc., and fantasy that is based either in the world that once existed (historical fantasy) or exists now (contemporary fantasy), or is based on proposed present or future based on either of those (alternate history or futuristic fantasy).

    Within contemporary fantasy is a wide variety of stories where different descriptors are often used depending on who is calling it and who is marketing it and what particular flavors the particular story might also have, like "urban fantasy" "slipstream" "paranormal" "superheroes" "horror" etc.

    For instance, one vampire story might be a paranormal romance, but another one might be a horror novel.

    It really is in the eye of the beholder.

  4. What a great idea! I really need to go join Twitter...I guess!

    I don't really have anything to add to the discussion, though. :( I think these genres cross over so many times that it's hard to make the distinction.

  5. Love the feature! (And I feel exactly the same way about my buttons, except they are just weird instead of simple.) Anywho, I don't think I've seen Supernatural as a genre either, though I know it gets thrown around. I love Diana's definitions of fantasy and its subgenres (which totally sounds smart and I'd never be able to articulate).

    As another random note, based solely on the word and no other connotations, I'd have switched your definitions (para-normal - sort of normal but with special powers, supernatural - totally different creatures).

    For most genre definitions, I think there is not set one and it will never be clearly defined. So I use whatever labels I feel like using, and try to keep those consistent.

  6. You know, I never thought about the distinction--I thought they were both ways of saying the same thing. So this is a very interesting conversation for me! Thanks for posting it.

  7. Jenni: I like your explanation better than mine!

    L: I do think paranormal is used more often too.

    Diana: Interesting! And I loved your take on the genres! And yes it really is in the eye of the beholder.

    Jenny: Be sure and tell me when that Twitter thing happens. We'll see how fast we can get you a bunch of followers!

    Melissa; Interesting that you think of these terms as just the opposite of what I do! Funny funny. That just goes to illustrate the major confusion we have with them!

    Cath: Yes, you are probably right.. they are the same thing! :)

  8. Hmm. to me they are different, but I can't really define how. Paranormal is more tangible, I think. Don't ask how. Like you, I think of supernatural as a power, not a being.

    I really hate that some vampire/werewolf books have made any mention of vampire/werewolf/whatever books to be taken the same way. There is a huge gulf between Twilight and Anita Blake. Or between a paranormal romance by an author marketed as such and something like Jim Butcher.



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