Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So...You Want To Write A Cozy Mystery? by Linda Kozar

First, I hope you have a good imagination. For instance, I'm a people watcher. Sometimes my eyes wander to an old man in Sam's Club and I think, that one's got a touch of larceny in him. Or I'll peruse an art gallery and come across a painting that rouses my suspicions. Like this one, below:


I could swear one, or all these girls have murdererous intentions. (Pssst--the baby did it!)

So if you have a good imagination, can write a decent sentence and string your thoughts together, you might have a chance! Here is a list of the basic elements of the beloved cozy mystery genre.

Ten Elements of Writing a Cozy Mystery


  1. No gore or violence. The reader knows a crime has occurred but is not exposed to the seamier detective novel type of crime scene. The focus is on solving the crime.
  2. The sleuth and sidekick are usually female. Though an amateur, the sleuth is smart and inquisitive and she almost always has an interesting job or hobby.
  3. If a romance is included, have the two meet in the most romantic cozy mystery kind of way--over the dead body. Then have them suffer a couple of setbacks and wind up together at the conclusion.
  4. Open the first chapter with the crime, of course!
  5. Create two or three strong suspects and eliminate them one-by-one until the last one is the killer, or reveal a totally unexpected character as the killer (even better).
  6. The sleuth has to be in peril at some point in the story, usually via confrontation with the suspect who intends to do bodily harm, but the sleuth is rescued or saved at the last minute.
  7. The reader must be introduced to a lifestyle or craft, etc. that sparks an interest.
  8. Fascinating information (via that lifestyle or craft, etc.) is shared and conveyed in the text of the story/dialogue.
  9. Recipes and cats are common in cozy mysteries.
  10. The mystery must have a satisfying conclusion, a sense of justice reached, and all loose ends tied up.
Now you're ready to write your first cozy mystery. All you need is an idea and the fortitude to sit hunched over your laptop for a couple of months. Ready, set, type!

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6 comments:

  1. Great checklist! Thanks, Linda.

    ~Nancy Jill

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  2. Thanks Nancy--I thought I would amalgamate a list of the very best articles on cozy mysteries and add some of my own thoughts.

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  3. Great list Linda.
    Of course it seems I break just about all those rules.

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  4. Cindy--Ya gotta break some eggs to make an omelette, right? :)

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