Paranormal vs Horror what is the difference?

Hello everybody! I hope your week is going well. If you’ve been following my social media you know I talked about this earlier in the week. I am by no means a horror or paranormal writer author or even reader. But that doesn’t mean I’m not curious about the genres and what separates them. I sometimes get confused about the difference between paranormal and horror.

As someone who is not immersed in well-versed on the genres, I asked some of my writing and author colleagues, who are well-versed in the genres, what the difference is. I got a lot of very insightful and interesting responses. So keep reading to learn the difference between the paranormal and horror in literature with me!

What do authors say about the difference between paranormal and horror?

“I always think of horror as being more grounded in reality such as serial killers and all. Paranormal has more supernatural elements such as ghosts, phantoms, demonic entities, etc.”

Lala Leo, Author

Horror is specifically designed with the emotions of the reader in mind. It’s deliberately designed to be frightening and unnerving. It’s that motivation that makes it horror, even if there are no paranormal elements.
Any paranormal elements make the story paranormal – it can be a paranormal horror, a paranormal romance, a paranormal thriller, adventure, of any kind. What gets them mixed up is that, when some of the original novels in the genres were written – such as Frankenstein or Dracula – paranormal things were only told as frightening stories. Now we can tell horror stories about ordinary humans – such as Psycho – or tell paranormal stories with positive twists such as Lovely Bones.

Stephen Stevie Cole, Writer
astronomy cloud clouds cosmos; difference between horror and paranormal
Photo by Joonas kääriäinen on

“Paranormal fiction is typically considered a sub-genre of horror. Although sometimes it’s more of a fantasy sub-genre.” —Genevieve Clovis, Writer

“Some people use the world Paranormal interchangeably with paranormal romance I’ve noticed.”K. R. S. McEntire, Author

So what is the difference between Horror Paranormal?

creepy dark fear grave; paranormal; horror; difference between paranormal and horror
Photo by Skitterphoto on

Wow so that was helpful. Thank you authors and writers! I think I can now come up with answer to the article’s main question. After researching and talking to other authors I have gathered that the difference is. I broke it down into a bulleted list on each genre to help me and you guys a bit better.

Horror-Is a story written to frighten and/or unnerve. It’s written to make you feel afraid. Horror:

  • Has a sense of dread or uneasiness
  • Provokes fear in readers
  • Reads like a nightmare
  • Has a killer ending

Paranormal– Includes an entity or event that is powered by something unexplained. Paranormal:

  • Mysterious
  • Ghost, ghost, and more ghosts
  • Life after death
  • Phenomena unexplained by science

You will see elements of both in each type of story, but you don’t have to have either to write that story. For instance you can have a horror story without a ghost (Saw). However, you can also have a ghost story without it being scary (Casper).

SL. Williams, Writer
grayscale photo of chair inside the establishment; difference between paranormal and horror
Photo by Pixabay on

Where can I learn more?

You can also learn more and get more in-depth information about these genres and genres like it from the The Write Talk (they are an amazing platform that definitely deserves more engagement and followers!)

Wow so I have learned a lot! Thank you again to all the authors and writers help me, and you, navigate through the different genres of horror and paranormal. This in no way is going to make me read or watch anything from these genres, but it was fun learning the difference from other authors and writers. Don’t forget to check out the Spooky Season Archive 🕸🕷 for more horrific (in a good way) blogs! Thank you all for reading and remember:

Live. Love. Laugh.

Similar Posts