Monday, October 01, 2007

Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve decided to stop by. For the next four weeks, I am completely at your disposal. Pick my brain. Ask questions. Post comments. I’ll be glad to help you in any way I can.

As we all know, the market for mysteries has really opened up in recent years, and cozy mysteries are one of the fastest selling of all mystery genres. If you’ve been considering trying your hand at writing a cozy, this series of lessons is designed just for you. I’m going to give you some practical tools for plotting out your story, incorporating red herrings, even give you some tips for making your villain believable.

But before we do all that, it’s important to understand the basic concept behind a cozy mystery. What makes a mystery. . .well. . .cozy? How does it differ from other novels in similar genres?

Let’s start by laying them all out. Among the types of mystery related novels are:

Cozy Mystery
Gothic Mystery

And the list goes on. So how do we pinpoint the differences? Lets start by matching them with the movies. Wondering why I chose to compare movies to book titles? It is always easier to pick out ideas from someone else’s work before you see it in your own. Movies are an excellent (and fast way—since most movies only last an hour and a half) example of what differentiates one type of genre from another.

First on the list: Thrillers. These are stories that can involve elements of suspense and mystery, but the key ingredient is DANGER. It's the kind of edge of your seat thrill ride that makes MI: 3 and The Bourne Identity so popular. There's a mystery to solve, a main character driving the plot, but bottom line? It's all about the action.

Then there's “Cape Fear” with Robert DeNiro. What made this movie a suspense was that the villain was clearly defined from the get go. I knew who the bad guy was, I just didn’t know if he would be successful in his quest to kill the hero/heroine. The entire movie was based on the question: Will the hero/heroine defeat the known villain?

Are the edges getting a little clearer now? Let's try one more. Cozy mysterys involve an amateur sleuth, quirky characters, and a comfortable "small town" feel. Take the TNT series "Monk" for example. What better crime solver than a former detective with OCD tendencies? LOL!

Seriously though, the crime in a cozy is usually void of the blood and gore that might be found in edgier genres, and while it oftentimes involves a murder, it's not the kind of in your face crime that make up a suspense or thriller.

To sum up, a cozy mystery is a story with a small town feel. It involves quirky characters and an amatuer sleuth. The crime usually occurs "off stage" and it is void of the violence and gore that might be found in other genres. While an element of danger does exist, it is not the driving force behind the story. Best of all, there are plenty of clues and red herrings the reader has to sort through in order to solve the crime!


Elaine Hurst said...

I am WAY behind on reading all this, but I am so glad I found it! Just what I was looking for. Thank you for taking the time to write all this out!

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