Let’s start with my personal definitions of each, be they wrong or right:
- Paranormal – Ghosts, spirits and psychic phenomena.
- Supernatural – Demons, angels, miracles, unexplainable by science religiously related stuff.
- Preternatural – Vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and other not human sort of critters.
Because those have been my personal definitions of the above, I was a little surprised when I noticed that some readers who’d purchased Dark Cravings from Amazon had tagged it as a paranormal romance.
My reaction was pretty much ‘Huh?’
I mean, there are werewolves and vampires in it, not haunted houses or psychics.
So I sort of checked around and discovered that pretty much any book with any non-human type characters that have a romance as part of the story are categorized as paranormal romance.
I thought ‘okay, I guess’ and went about my merry way.
But there are weird things that strike me as stuff to muse upon, and so I’ve mused over that for a few months now.
I would personally term Dark Cravings as more of a dark urban fantasy. The existence of vampires and werewolves isn’t common knowledge, hence the urban bit. The main character has had some pretty awful events occur in her life due to certain werewolfish circumstances, and the vampires aren’t your average suavely debonair types, which is where the ‘dark’ bit comes in.
There is a romance in there, yeah. But it’s not what I would personally describe as a paranormal romance.
I read a story in a magazine a long, long time ago. I can’t remember the title or the author’s name, so if the story sounds familiar to anyone, please inform me of one or the other. I want a copy of it for my bookshelves!
Short version: Married couple goes on whitewater rafting vacation, husband drowns. He returns to haunt his widow, who eventually becomes romantically attached to a male friend or co-worker who has been supportive and is interested in her.
Ghost of husband causes new love interest to fall down some stairs and break his neck, then possesses the body so that he can be with his wife again.
Now that, my friends, is a paranormal romance!
My question is this: when did paranormal, supernatural and preternatural all become lumped together as the exact same thing?
Dark Cravings should be tagged as a preternatural romance, rather than paranormal romance, since no ghosts, demons or psychics are involved.
Who started this trend of lumping all three together? Though I guess there’s not really a giant difference between paranormal and supernatural?
Am I being overly picky here? Probably.
I decided to look up the definitions of each and also to check out Wikipedia to see what other people had to say.
- Paranormal – of or pertaining to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation, as psychokinesis, extrasensory perception, or other purportedly supernatural phenomena.
- Supernatural – adj.
1. of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.
2. of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or attributed to God or a deity.
3. of a superlative degree; preternatural: a missile of supernatural speed.
4. of, pertaining to, or attributed to ghosts, goblins, or other unearthly beings; eerie; occult.
Supernatural – noun
5. a being, place, object, occurrence, etc., considered as supernatural or of supernatural origin; that which is supernatural, or outside the natural order.
6. behavior supposedly caused by the intervention of supernatural beings.
7. direct influence or action of a deity on earthly affairs.
8. the supernatural, a. supernatural beings, behavior, and occurrences collectively.
b. supernatural forces and the supernatural plane of existence: a deep fear of the supernatural.
- Preternatural –adjective 1. out of the ordinary course of nature; exceptional or abnormal: preternatural powers.
2. outside of nature; supernatural.
Huh, so their definitions give the impression they can be interchanged with each other on the whole.
- Paranormal is a general term that describes unusual experiences that lack a scientific explanation, or phenomena alleged to be outside of science’s current ability to explain or measure. Notably, paranormal phenomena also lack scientific evidence, as detectable but not well explained phenomena such as dark matter or dark energy are not commonly called paranormal.
Not to be confused with Preternatural.
For other uses, see Supernatural (disambiguation).
The term supernatural or supranatural (Latin: super, supra “above” + natura “nature”) pertains to being above or beyond what is natural, unexplainable by natural law or phenomena. Religious miracles are typically supernatural claims, as are spells and curses, divination, the belief that there is an afterlife for the dead, and innumerable others. Supernatural beliefs have existed in many cultures throughout human history.
Characteristic for phenomena claimed as supernatural are anomaly, uniqueness and uncontrollability, thus lacking reproducibility required for scientific examination. Supernatural themes are often associated with paranormal and occult ideas, suggesting for possibility of interaction with the supernatural by means of summoning or trance for instance.
- The preternatural or praeternatural is that which appears outside or beyond (Latin præter) the natural. While this may include what is more commonly called the supernatural, it may also simply indicate extremity—an ordinary phenomenon taken ‘beyond’ the natural. One may have, for example, a preternatural desire, a preternatural curiosity, a preternaturally acute ear (sense of hearing), or even preternaturally big ears.
The term is often used to distinguish from the divine (supernatural) while maintaining a distinction from the purely natural. For instance, in certain theologies, the angels, both holy and fallen, are endowed with preternatural powers. Their intellect, speed, and other characteristics are described as beyond human capacities but yet still finite.
Some examples of preternatural creatures in fiction include fairies, werewolves, vampires, zombies, and the Chupacabra.
See that last? And where it relates ‘supernatural’ to ‘divine’? Understand why I feel rather confused here?
Paranormal isn’t the same as Supernatural, but Supernatural can also be Paranormal.
Preternatural isn’t to be confused with Supernatural, yet according to the dictionary, they’re pretty much interchangeable with one another.
Basically I guess it comes down to there not being as much of a distinction between the three as I’ve always personally thought, and yes, I’m being too nit-picky over it.
That happens from time to time.
What do you think? Do you feel there should be or is a clearer distinction between the three?