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How to Write a Cozy Mystery

Today, mystery author J.Q. Rose is going to share her tips for writing a great cozy mystery…

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If anyone has a writing question, just pop it in the comments below and I’ll answer. And if I don’t know the proper answer, I’ll make up one! Remember, I write fiction so I make up a lot of stuff….

When my romantic suspense novel, Dangerous Sanctuary, was first released, I received this review from an amazon reader. “It was a delightful cozy…with lots of mystery. This novel has an interesting cast of characters, humorous situations, and was filled with surprises.”

After I read the review, I wondered how many readers had heard of a cozy mystery. How many writers? When I began writing Dangerous Sanctuary, I wasn’t thinking “cozy mystery.” I just wanted to write what I like to read.

I like stories with

  •  a mystery and some humor,
  •  a strong female protagonist,
  •  not a lot of blood and gore,
  • and some sweet romance.

 

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According to Wikipedia, “The term ‘cozy’ was first coined in the late 20th century when various writers produced work in an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.” These detective stories, popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s, had elements readers expected in their mysteries.

 

Similarly, cozy mysteries (sometimes called “cozies”), have elements readers expect.

Murder She Wrote is often cited as a prime example of a cozy mystery. Are you familiar with Jessica Fletcher’s crime-solving methods in her small town of Cabot Cove?

 

Let’s explore how Jessica’s escapades fit into the cozy mystery niche.

 

Elements Readers Expect in a Cozy Mystery by J.Q. Rose

  1. The main character is the most important element when defining a cozy mystery. She is usually a strong, capable woman who is NOT a member of law enforcement. She can be a business owner, a professor, a teacher, a writer like Jessica, or any other job you can dream up. In Dangerous Sanctuary, she’s a minister. She may have a connection to a detective, P.I. or police officer who shares information with her on the case.
  2. The setting is different and interesting. A cozy takes place in a small community located anywhere in the world or out of this world, a ranch, a space ship, a hotel, but it is usually a small area like Cabot Cove.
  3. I know it’s odd to call a grisly crime such as murder “cozy.” I believe cozy implies the crime scene is not outrageously bloody and gory.
  4. The action consists of twists and turns in the story leading the reader to suspect one person/thing to be the killer, then a clever reveal proves that isn’t true. These clues thrown into the plot to throw the reader off-balance are called red-herrings and keep the reader turning pages to discover “who-dun-it.” 5. Explicit sex is not in the story; however, romance makes a great side story to complement the mystery.
  5. Smart humor is also an integral element in cozies. Trying to untangle the clues to solve the mystery and the added humor entertain the reader and keeps her reading.
  6. Readers expect a happy ending. All the loose ends should be tied up in a satisfying ending so the mystery is solved. When readers fall in love with the characters, they will return for the next book, so cozies are often written in a series. However, the answers to the mystery are always disclosed so each book in the series is a stand-alone.

 

Cozy mysteries are very popular now with female readers (and some guys enjoy them too, I’ve heard.) Personally, I enjoy writing them, figuring out how to “fool” the readers with the red herrings and adding lots of fun with characters and situations.

 

Have you written a cozy? Are you planning to write one? What do you like about reading cozies?

 About J.Q.:

After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction. Her mysteries published by BWL Publishing are Terror on Sunshine Boulevard, Dangerous Sanctuary, and Deadly Undertaking. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. She and her husband, Gardener Ted, spend winters in Florida and summers up north camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at

J.Q. Rose blog http://www.jqrose.com/

Facebook http://facebook.com/jqroseauthor

Google+ google.com/+JQRose

Dangerous Sanctuary by J.Q. Rose

Universal Link

https://books2read.com/u/4jw1r2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About J.Q.:

After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction. Her mysteries published by BWL Publishing are Terror on Sunshine Boulevard, Dangerous Sanctuary, and Deadly Undertaking. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. She and her husband, Gardener Ted, spend winters in Florida and summers up north camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

 

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at

J.Q. Rose blog http://www.jqrose.com/

Facebook http://facebook.com/jqroseauthor

Google+ google.com/+JQRose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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