Have you ever noticed that readers – and writers too – tend to interchange the term ‘supernatural’ with ‘paranormal’, as if they mean the same thing?
No one should be blamed for making such a mistake – For instance, consider the popular TV series called “Supernatural.” The series is famous for storylines that have to do with unexplained phenomena such as were-wolves or weird creatures, and maybe even afterlife. However, these features about the TV series are actually in the paranormal genre, and not supernatural. Therefore, in my humble view, and maybe quite unpopular too, the TV show has the wrong title!
Therefore – How do you know the difference between a supernatural story and a paranormal one? I saw a definition on a blog written by Masterclass, where “famous people teach you about the thing that made them famous.” Masterclass defines the paranormal genre as stories that involve “zombies, werewolves, aliens, and ghosts, as well as phenomena like telepathy and time travel.” The supernatural genre is described as “phenomena that are forever outside the realm of scientific explanation, such as god, the afterlife, and the soul.”
I would tend to disagree. Yes, I know, disagreeing with the masters is not a popular place to be. However, I think that the supernatural definition has been made too generic by the masters, and the paranormal not fully explained.
Therefore, what is a supernatural story or genre, and what is a paranormal one? The answer can be found by first looking at the basic definition of what supernatural means, and what paranormal means, and then taking out the elements from those definitions.
My favorite Oxford dictionary defines supernatural as: “…attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.”
The dictionary defines paranormal as: “…denoting events or phenomena that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.”
Let me show you a table that differentiates supernatural from paranormal, and then I will give you my conclusion at the end about what these two really mean. There are 5 things that would help to distinguish supernatural from paranormal
|1. Supernatural means something ‘super’ + natural or beyond the natural.||Paranormal means “alongside of normal, near normal, resembling normal, beyond normal, and abnormal.”|
|2. Supernatural is phenomena that human reasoning or logic cannot explain||Paranormal is phenomena that could potentially be explained by human logic, maybe even science|
|3. Another word for supernatural is spiritual.||Another word for paranormal is occult.|
|4. There is only one being that is usually called supernatural – God||There are several beings called paranormal: Were-wolves, Dracula, etc.|
|5. Supernatural implies a thing that could be, or is good.||Paranormal implies something that is malevolent.|
In looking at the above table that separates the supernatural from the paranormal, I have taken the definition a little further by breaking them up into their individual parts.
Therefore, the overall conclusion about a supernatural thing is that it is beyond human reasoning but inherently good. The conclusion on the paranormal is that it can potentially be explained by humans, because it could have been created by humans or other forces that are within human understanding, but it is inherently or could be hazardous – Consider people’s encounters in movies with Dracula or were-wolves, for instance.
On my website, Omega Inscribe, you will probably note that I talk about writing romantic stories using supernatural inspiration from Biblical references. This will give you an idea about the books I write, and a better understanding about the genre of the supernatural, under which they are written.
Recently, I wrote the book, Cross Border Dating, which follows the same features about what ‘supernatural’ means, as explained above, and which represents the brand that we teach at Omega Inscribe for romantic storytellers who want to learn how to bring the supernatural into their story writing in believable or unique ways.
Have you written a supernatural story? Comment below about what your book is about and let the community hear about it!