Pranking Paranormal Romance and Knowing Your Audience

Before my senior year of college I switched my major from Creative Writing to Technical Writing. This was because tech writers have much more available job opportunities out in the business world, and while my ultimate goal is to support myself through my books, I don’t find the identity of the starving artists appealing in the slightest bit. I did learn a lot of valuable things as a tech writing major, but it was worth it alone for the required Professional Writing class. My professor was sharp, knew her stuff, and constantly hammered into our skulls that the most important thing you can do before you write something is make sure you know who your audience is. Sadly, this is a lesson that escaped me for a very long time when I was putting out the first three parts of The Evanescence Chronicles, but now I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

The Evanescence Chronicles is a story that has undergone several transformations during my time writing it (though how and why is for a later blog post). But it is, first and foremost, a practical joke I’m playing on modern day paranormal romance. Here is the basic structure of the joke:

1. Introduce elements that I particularly despise about modern day paranormal romance. Examples being the utterly perfect, smart, special, popular, rich Mary-Sue teen female lead, the overly dark and brooding vampire male love interest, the two leads falling in love too quickly, and a cliché, uncomplex villain that is defeated too quickly and too easily, etc.

These elements are introduced in the first book of The Evanescence Chronicles: Volume I titled Evanescence. For satire’s sake, I made them especially over-the-top even by the standards of modern paranormal romance novels and the writing won’t be compared to Shakespeare in this reality. Normally I love complex, poetic writing, so I all but went with stream-of-conscious in order to simplify it.

2. The next step is to slowly introduce a more complex story that builds on the previously established despicable/simple elements and story.

This part starts in the second book titled The Mirror. Here I introduce the vampires’ Mesoamerican roots, a bloody jihad that tore their society apart for centuries, and an insecure dragon king who is being manipulated by a dark god with unclear motives.

3. Continue to build on more complex story elements along with unraveling several plot twists that will eventually obliterate the previous despicable/simple elements.

In Soul Cannibal, the third book, I begin to gleefully decimate Mercedes’ status as a Mary-Sue. For her selfless attempts to warn the dragons and the sirens of Tezcatlipoca’s evil intentions, she is ignored, beaten, and almost killed more than once. It is also hinted that her parents are not the moral, compassionate businessmen that they portray themselves to be. But I have to say my favorite part was when she demanded to be taken away from her beloved vampire boyfriend after experiencing what a raging maniac he can be.

As the story progresses, I will continue to build on these elements until, as I said before, the older ones are gone, and in their place is a hardcore sci-fi/fantasy story. But what I’m really looking forward to, and to me this would be the ultimate joke on modern day paranormal romance, is to progress Mercedes’ character until she transforms from perfect Mary-Sue into the series’ main villain. That would be awesome.

But getting back to me forgetting the vital lesson of knowing my audience, when I separately published the first parts of The Evanescence Chronicles, I didn’t tell anyone about the joke. Quite the contrary, I led everyone to believe that I was writing regular paranormal romance, or as I prefer to call it, tween girl porn. Why? Because I thought it was a good sneaky strategy. People would buy the books thinking they were actual paranormal romance, and then they would be sucker punched by my plot twists. But then I was sucker punched by a 2-star review I got for the first book from book blogger Cassay C.

Evanescence was a slow read for me. It is only 97 pages long and took me over 8 hrs to read. I put my e-reader down several times to step away from the story. I was a bit confused on the vampire hierarchy, I didn’t fully understand the rankings and how each vampire was classified. I liked Mercedes online persona Countess better than her real life persona. I liked how Mercedes who has everything in the world is giving back to others and helping women who are from abusive relationships. That was probably the only thing I liked about her. I didn’t like how she made everything about Shadow. It seemed like her strong independent personality went out the window when it came to Shadow, she was worse than Bella in my opinion. I also felt the ending was a bit rushed. I think I may have liked the story better if it was longer and explained things a bit better. The story may get better in books 2 and 3 but overall this wasn’t a story for me.

After reading this review, I said to myself “Alexandra: stop being stupid. Hiding what your story really means so your readers can find out later doesn’t make you clever, it makes you arrogant and presumptuous. You’re writing satire, so let your audience know that and get it out to them.”

So after that wake-up call, I combined the first three books into one full novel, made a brand-spanking new cover in Photoshop, and wrote a synopsis that made it clear that I was writing satire. What a relief.

Have a great day.

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