Tag Archives: Writing the Cozy Mystery

Writing the Cozy Mystery–Points to Consider

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraigfile6851297891836

This is the last post in my series on cozy writing. (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  6.) Today I thought I’d wrap up a few things that are, mostly, specific to cozies (where some of the earlier posts could have been applied to other subgenres of mysteries.)

Murder method.  If the method is gory, the state of the victim’s body isn’t explained in great detail. There isn’t a focus on forensics in cozies.  If you’re using guns, be accurate but move away from a lot of forensic detail…keeping it simple.  In a cozy, the focus is on the puzzle itself.

There tends to be a lot of blunt force trauma, suffocation, strangulation, stabbing, poisoning, and victims being pushed down staircases. Continue reading Writing the Cozy Mystery–Points to Consider

Writing the Cozy Mystery–Common Pitfalls

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraigfile6881312030155

If you’re just joining us, I’ve been running a series on writing cozy mysteries. (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).  Today I thought I’d cover a few problem areas that we might run into when writing a cozy mystery.

Slow pace, story seems weighed down.   Is the story too basic and formulaic? What’s going on with your sleuth in her personal life? What background can we discover about the suspects? Is there a subplot we can develop that sheds light on one of the recurring story characters? Are there recurring story characters (they are common in cozies).  Can we tie in the subplot with the mystery somehow?

The issue could be mechanical, too. Try for shorter sentences, more dialogue, and shorter chapters.  Try changing the sentence structure around a little. Continue reading Writing the Cozy Mystery–Common Pitfalls

Writing the Cozy Mystery–Whodunit?

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraigquestion mark

One of the most important aspects of the cozy mystery is the puzzle itself.  Aside from character development, the puzzle is the most important part of the mystery.  Mystery readers tend to be avid readers who are practiced at looking for clues to the killer.  Here are some thoughts about how to make sure the readers don’t solve our puzzle before we want them to.

Red herrings: To keep readers guessing, we need to provide some false leads for our sleuth. These leads frequently come from other suspects, but they can come from some of the physical (usually not forensic in a cozy) evidence surrounding the crime (something out of place, something missing, something there that shouldn’t be there). Continue reading Writing the Cozy Mystery–Whodunit?

Writing the Cozy Mystery: the Setting and the Sidekick

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraigfile611236549064

This is the fourth part in my series on writing cozy mysteries. Today, I’m covering two important elements of our story: the setting and our sidekick.

Most cozy mysteries shoot for a very closed environment and a closed group of suspects from which to choose from.

You can still maintain a closed environment in a large city or bigger town (I did in my Memphis series), but it’s a little harder, I think.  Although I’ve got a city as a backdrop for the story, I center much of the story action around a barbeque restaurant.  This doesn’t mean we can’t stray from these central locations, but they serve to make the setting seem more intimate (yes, cozy) and create a home base for the sleuths.  Sleuths can interview suspects from there, use it as a place to discuss the case with their sidekicks, and generally interact with the other characters. Continue reading Writing the Cozy Mystery: the Setting and the Sidekick

Writing the Cozy Mystery—the Victim

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraigDSC06922

This is the third in my cozy mystery writing series.  Today I’m taking a closer look at our victim. Parts one and two can be found here and here.

Handling our victim’s demise: As I mentioned in an earlier post, you can handle this a couple of different ways.  You can show the reader the likely suspects and why the victim might have been killed during interactions between future suspects and future victim at the start of the book (victim is still alive as the story opens).  Or you can open the story with the victim’s body and have the sleuth figure out who the suspects are and the motive (slightly trickier, I think).

Another tricky victim area: likeability.  If the victim is too unlikeable, readers may not care if his murder is solved or not.  Although it does make it easy in terms of motive. If you’ve got a very unlikeable victim, might be a good idea for the sleuth to remind others that justice is still important (as Hercule Poirot did in Agatha Christie’s mysteries). Or we could consider having someone close to the sleuth or the sleuth herself under suspicion to give the reader extra incentive to find out whodunit. Continue reading Writing the Cozy Mystery—the Victim