Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Horror vs. Paranormal


Discussing genre is always fun, right? Or is does it just make us crazy? Trying to pin down a story into a certain category?

As you may or may not know, I've been pondering the differences and the sameness-es of the horror and paranormal genre categories these past couple of weeks. After some other random discussions and looking it up here's what I'm understanding:

Paranormal is a story that includes something that can't be explained in our real life world. Something, you know. . .not normal. This could also be described as supernatural actually. I'm not sure there's a true difference between these two words either.

I was just reading something where people think that if you say paranormal that automatically makes people think romance. Really? Okay. If you say supernatural, you take the romance connotation out of it. Hmm. Something to think about there I guess.

Horror basically means a book that is trying to scare the readers, whether that's through intense suspense (oh, I like those two words together!) or the creep factor, or blood and guts and gore. But bottom line, it HAS to be scary.

So that being said, a paranormal book could be horror and a horror book could be paranormal, right? But you could have horror with normal everyday events, and paranormal without being scary.

But like the word paranormal, I think most people assume that something considered horror will have certain elements. Blood and guts and gore perhaps. Really creepy monsters maybe. Crazy insane people. Clowns. Doll faces.

Do you think that paranormal is a subset of horror? Or that horror is a subset of paranormal? Do you think paranormal ALWAYS has romance? What about supernatural? So would saying a book is a paranormal romance be redundant? And would saying a book is paranormal horror be a thing? Or is that redundant too?

And speaking of paranormal, are you all so turned off by that genre lately that you turn your nose up if something is described as such? And the big question of the day: Is horror "more cool?" Seriously. Genres have a reputation and if one's story gets labeled a certain way, it's a big deal!

I want to know what you think!

(Stay tuned for another genre discussion next week: historical vs. contemporary and at what time period does one become the other?)


  1. Interesting topic! I think I tend to associate paranormal with romance because I see those two words together so often. And horror usually means something terrifying that I won't even pick it up (I scare easily). Supernatural means ghosts or vampires or the like and while there could be romance in the story, it's not the main focus.

    Paranormal and supernatural stories could have elements of horror in them, but I don't think that they're a subset of horror. More a subset of fantasy maybe?

    Will be curious to see what everyone thinks!

  2. I think they are a subset of fantasy too. Horror usually has supernatural elements but it wouldn't have to .

  3. Good question. This is how I think of all three of them:

    Paranormal--vampires, werewolves, monsters, but not necessarily with scary elements or romance. It can be scary and it can have romance.

    Supernatural--ghosts, gods, witches, wizards, magic, superheroes (but they're their own subset) but not necessarily with scary elements or romance. It can be scary and it can have romance.

    Horror--scary or very suspenseful. It doesn't have to have, but it can have paranormal and supernatural elements.

    I could be way off base on paranormal and supernatural and they could be the same and maybe paranormal really is about the romance, but that's not how I define it.

    Also, I don't like that doll picture in your post. It totally creeps me out. I hate creepy dolls. Chucky and creepy clowns (other than spiders) are one of my biggest fears. (I like regular clowns, though, so it's not just all clowns in general.)

  4. Heavy questions to ponder. I just hate when they go the extra mile and add Fantasy and Horror books together. Drives me crazy. Stephen King's book "Carrie" has both paranormal and Horror ? or does it? Carrie didn't mean to be evil, her feelings were just hurt.
    I think the Horror genre includes aspects of evil and paranormal and supernatural don't. Weird, unexplained stuff, yes and even some really bad characters, but Horror is just evil! And hopefully the good overcomes the evil. I'm not much help.

  5. Such an interesting question! I've always thought of paranormal and supernatural as a subset of fantasy, actually. And I don't think of paranormal as being romance, unless it's "paranormal romance". And I think a paranormal story can also be a horror - it would just have to have paranormal and horror elements in it. I think horror can pretty well work with all the genres.

  6. Sadly? when I hear paranormal I think of a certain kind of book. Yes, that type of book. When I think horror I think scary our disturbing. Honestly the whole thing gives me a headache. It's tough deciding what genre a book falls into.

  7. I usually think of horror as having gore, and non-gory stuff as more suspense or thriller-type stories. But I don't think that's an actual category. Paranormal makes me think of werewolves/vampires/non-humans, especially paranormal romance. And maybe supernatural is humans with special powers? I don't know.



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