Author Topic: For Cozy Writers  (Read 1587 times)  

Online BlossomBubblesButtercup

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For Cozy Writers
« on: May 20, 2018, 05:08:36 PM »
Cozy mysteries have certain 'rules' and those rules are why I love reading them but now that I'm writing them I find that my stories take a darker turn. I don't have profanity and no explicit sex scenes. There is a bit of humor but because of the darker elements I have to go easy on that or my main would look like a sociopath making jokes all the time. Nothing crazy or super graphic but still darker than most that I've read.
My question is: Would I alienate cozy readers by darkening things up?

Offline Victoria LK

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2018, 06:03:13 PM »
Didn't they consider Agatha Christie a cozy writer? There are some pretty dark themes and scenes in her books! There is a difference between dark and graphic, and I think that is what you have to keep in mind. What you describe sounds like a cozy to me. Especially if you're adding humor. I think some are a bit too "light" and perfect. But hey, that just my opinion, lol

Online BlossomBubblesButtercup

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2018, 07:56:29 PM »
Thanks that's helpful. I can read it but I'm having trouble writing murder as light or perfect. There's just so much twisted stuff going on behind the scenes and I want to explore that. Just wanted to be sure I was still in the right category though.

Offline nosecroquet

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2018, 08:24:18 PM »

On the Kindle Store at least, there are some fairly dark-looking books that are ranking well under Cozy:

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Cozy-Mystery/zgbs/digital-text/6190476011

There are some (fairly arbitrary) subcategories like 'Culinary', but even in the main Cozy Mystery category depicted above, you can see a few books which to me advertise darkness pretty clearly in their cover and title choices.  Having said that, if you are going for 'quirky' and the illustrated cover style, you may need to be careful to signal the tone of the story pretty clearly in cover/title/blurb.
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Online ShayneRutherford

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2018, 09:25:16 PM »
Thanks that's helpful. I can read it but I'm having trouble writing murder as light or perfect. There's just so much twisted stuff going on behind the scenes and I want to explore that. Just wanted to be sure I was still in the right category though.

I think one of the main rules of cozy is that the dark stuff doesn't happen on the page, so you might want to be careful about getting too deep into the twisted stuff. Personally, I enjoy dark crime stuff, serial killers, horror, etc. so I don't have any problem with the idea of violence on the page, but I also enjoy cozy mysteries for the things they bring to the table. One time, I read a cozy where the protagonist was attacked by the killer at the end of the story, and ended up with a broken arm after being hit with a pipe, I think it was. It was so foreign to my expectations of the cozy genre that I never read another book in that series.
     

Online BlossomBubblesButtercup

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2018, 11:41:51 PM »
I think one of the main rules of cozy is that the dark stuff doesn't happen on the page, so you might want to be careful about getting too deep into the twisted stuff. Personally, I enjoy dark crime stuff, serial killers, horror, etc. so I don't have any problem with the idea of violence on the page, but I also enjoy cozy mysteries for the things they bring to the table. One time, I read a cozy where the protagonist was attacked by the killer at the end of the story, and ended up with a broken arm after being hit with a pipe, I think it was. It was so foreign to my expectations of the cozy genre that I never read another book in that series.
Good point. I'm definitely going to keep the advice about the cover & blurb in mind. So readers won't be surprised.

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2018, 03:28:02 AM »
There's quite a lot of variety in the genre these days, including some darker mysteries, particularly in the UK charts. I've had one of my protagonists shot, but not killed, towards the end of one of my mystery novels but I still classify them as cosy (cozy) as there is nowhere else appropriate to put them.

Offline It's A Mystery

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2018, 12:54:05 PM »
My two main categories are traditional and cosy.

I think there's a far bigger sliding scale in cosy than people realise. As long as there's not major violence or swearing, I'd write the book you want to and let the market decide.

Offline Lorri Moulton

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2018, 01:24:49 PM »
Cozy mysteries have certain 'rules' and those rules are why I love reading them but now that I'm writing them I find that my stories take a darker turn. I don't have profanity and no explicit sex scenes. There is a bit of humor but because of the darker elements I have to go easy on that or my main would look like a sociopath making jokes all the time. Nothing crazy or super graphic but still darker than most that I've read.
My question is: Would I alienate cozy readers by darkening things up?

Possibly, but you might start an entirely new genre...the dark cozy.  Or the sarcastic cozy. :)

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Online BlossomBubblesButtercup

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2018, 04:46:08 PM »
I'm doubting myself now. I'm wondering if I should just not try to shove them in the Cozy category.

Offline Victoria LK

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2018, 05:26:05 PM »
The great thing about self-publishing is you can change things if they aren't working the way you want. I don't think you'll have a problem in cozy

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2018, 10:01:07 AM »
I call mine traditional (think Rex Stout, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ellery Queen, etc.), but use cozy as a sub-genre. Someone suggested the term 'cozy noir,' which I rather like. I have no cupcakes, quilts, cats or paranormal characters. Also, no complaints so far.


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Offline Anne R. Tan

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2018, 01:21:25 PM »
The cozy genre is in flux right now because of all the new writers coming in. Just remember that cozy is light and fluffy like a cupcake. If yours has darker themes, I would go with traditional mystery or amateur sleuth. If there is on scene violence, then maybe suspense? Just dont put a darker theme mystery with a vector cover in the cozy category because theyll kill the book with reviews (pun intended).  ;D

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Offline JB Rowley

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2018, 02:10:13 PM »
There's quite a lot of variety in the genre these days,

Yes. Cosy/cozy has almost become 'fluffy' rather than the traditional style of 'whodunit'.  They can range from pavlova (fluffy meringue) to light sponge  to dark fruit cake. And some are comic cosies!

Offline Anne R. Tan

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2018, 03:41:05 PM »
I call mine traditional (think Rex Stout, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ellery Queen, etc.), but use cozy as a sub-genre. Someone suggested the term 'cozy noir,' which I rather like. I have no cupcakes, quilts, cats or paranormal characters. Also, no complaints so far.

Yes, I would consider Rex Stout and Dorothy Sayers traditional mystery too. They actually have a wider readership than cozy. And many of them have humor in the books too.

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Offline Augusta Blythe

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2018, 03:59:43 PM »
I think it depends on your tone. I write cozies under another name and my plots actually tend to be quite dark, but they're wrapped in so much fluff and quirk that I don't think the readers notice it (or at least are unconcerned by it).

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2018, 05:33:13 PM »
I call mine traditional (think Rex Stout, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ellery Queen, etc.), but use cozy as a sub-genre. Someone suggested the term 'cozy noir,' which I rather like. I have no cupcakes, quilts, cats or paranormal characters. Also, no complaints so far.
Cozy Noir. I love that.

Online BlossomBubblesButtercup

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2018, 05:35:06 PM »
I think it depends on your tone. I write cozies under another name and my plots actually tend to be quite dark, but they're wrapped in so much fluff and quirk that I don't think the readers notice it (or at least are unconcerned by it).
That's encouraging. But I guess I won't really know until I put the series out there.

Online Spin52

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« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2018, 12:21:40 AM »
Yes, I would consider Rex Stout and Dorothy Sayers traditional mystery too. They actually have a wider readership than cozy. And many of them have humor in the books too.
Absolutely. That is one thing I don't like about the super-fluffy cozies, that the covers almost guarantee the readership will be exclusively female, whereas Stout and Queen, in particular, had plenty of male readers, too.   


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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2018, 12:47:01 AM »
I call mine traditional (think Rex Stout, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ellery Queen, etc.), but use cozy as a sub-genre. Someone suggested the term 'cozy noir,' which I rather like. I have no cupcakes, quilts, cats or paranormal characters. Also, no complaints so far.
I understood that cozy mystery meant detective stories where the main detective was not a professional. So, although I know you hate it, that would make your books cozy. (Don't scream at me, please! It's too early in the morning). So, while Miss Marple is cozy, Hercule Poirot is not. It would also make Lord Peter Wimsey cozy, and his adventures can be very dark.

Of course, that could be all wrong. I asked on here once and that's what I was told.


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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2018, 01:15:03 AM »
I understood that cozy mystery meant detective stories where the main detective was not a professional. So, although I know you hate it, that would make your books cozy. (Don't scream at me, please! It's too early in the morning). So, while Miss Marple is cozy, Hercule Poirot is not. It would also make Lord Peter Wimsey cozy, and his adventures can be very dark.

Of course, that could be all wrong. I asked on here once and that's what I was told.

That's why I usually choose cosy and (I think) traditional British for my two main categories. However, I think there are other 'rules' that seem to apply elsewhere and so there is a school of thought that says they have to include cupcakes, quilting, witches etc. Not sure I would define novels with paranormal elements as cosy but they certainly seem to have taken hold.
I don't think I have reviews that complain about my novels not being cosy enough (not that I've read all the reviews) but I don't really have many readers outside the UK in any case.

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2018, 02:12:58 AM »
There are different degrees of cosy/cozy, aren't there? I've never thought of "murdering someone" as particularly cosy/cozy  (I'll stick to the American spelling since my Grammarly editor is annoying me with red lines), no matter how easily they slip into the night.

"Who stole the cake from the village fete?" or "Who sabotaged the cricket bat?" might be "cozy" mysteries. But then I've heard British TV shows like "Death in Paradise" and "Midsomer Murders" (also novels) described as cozy too. Perhaps "cozy" is now a catch-all for those mysteries that do not feature triggers like gory autopsies, "on-screen" violence, swearing or sex?

I'm more in the "traditional" camp when it comes to this, although if I wrote a Miss Marple-type murder mystery I wouldn't be beneath using cozy (and cosy) as a keyword, since many readers clearly accept it as such. To me, murder is never cozy. Unless it's a pie or flower arrangement that's being murdered, of course.
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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2018, 03:03:01 AM »
I understood that cozy mystery meant detective stories where the main detective was not a professional. So, although I know you hate it, that would make your books cozy. (Don't scream at me, please! It's too early in the morning). So, while Miss Marple is cozy, Hercule Poirot is not. It would also make Lord Peter Wimsey cozy, and his adventures can be very dark.

Of course, that could be all wrong. I asked on here once and that's what I was told.
I don't think that is necessarily the case, although the majority of cozies probably do have amateur detectives, often working in tandem with the police. I would think it's more that they don't have graphic violence, on-stage sex or profanity and often a small-town setting. And a terrible pun in the title seems almost mandatory.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2018, 03:07:22 AM by Spin52 »


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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2018, 03:18:17 AM »
I call mine traditional (think Rex Stout, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ellery Queen, etc.), but use cozy as a sub-genre. Someone suggested the term 'cozy noir,' which I rather like. I have no cupcakes, quilts, cats or paranormal characters. Also, no complaints so far.

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2018, 07:46:43 AM »
Something rather horrid happens to a quilt in one of mine, I'm afraid!

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2018, 08:46:52 AM »
No quilts? Shocking! :P

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I do have an MC who's a good cook (Italian food a speciality), if that counts.


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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2018, 09:05:41 AM »
There are different degrees of cosy/cozy, aren't there? I've never thought of "murdering someone" as particularly cosy/cozy  (I'll stick to the American spelling since my Grammarly editor is annoying me with red lines), no matter how easily they slip into the night.

"Who stole the cake from the village fete?" or "Who sabotaged the cricket bat?" might be "cozy" mysteries. But then I've heard British TV shows like "Death in Paradise" and "Midsomer Murders" (also novels) described as cozy too. Perhaps "cozy" is now a catch-all for those mysteries that do not feature triggers like gory autopsies, "on-screen" violence, swearing or sex?

I'm more in the "traditional" camp when it comes to this, although if I wrote a Miss Marple-type murder mystery I wouldn't be beneath using cozy (and cosy) as a keyword, since many readers clearly accept it as such. To me, murder is never cozy. Unless it's a pie or flower arrangement that's being murdered, of course.
Why would anyone want to read a book about a stolen cake?


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Offline Augusta Blythe

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2018, 12:40:20 PM »
And a terrible pun in the title seems almost mandatory.

I quite enjoy the puns.

Offline Amanda M. Lee

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2018, 03:28:38 PM »
I quite enjoy the puns.
Me, too. The puns are the second thing that attract me, right after the cover.

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2018, 03:56:42 PM »
There are different degrees of cosy/cozy, aren't there? I've never thought of "murdering someone" as particularly cosy/cozy  (I'll stick to the American spelling since my Grammarly editor is annoying me with red lines), no matter how easily they slip into the night.

"Who stole the cake from the village fete?" or "Who sabotaged the cricket bat?" might be "cozy" mysteries. But then I've heard British TV shows like "Death in Paradise" and "Midsomer Murders" (also novels) described as cozy too. Perhaps "cozy" is now a catch-all for those mysteries that do not feature triggers like gory autopsies, "on-screen" violence, swearing or sex?

I'm more in the "traditional" camp when it comes to this, although if I wrote a Miss Marple-type murder mystery I wouldn't be beneath using cozy (and cosy) as a keyword, since many readers clearly accept it as such. To me, murder is never cozy. Unless it's a pie or flower arrangement that's being murdered, of course.
I love Death in Paradise and Midsomer Murders but I would never have called them cozy because of storylines that have dudes killing their wives and putting her skeleton on display and fathers raping their sons. The whole 'write to market' thing been bouncing around in my head and lately, it seems the market now favors recipes, jokes, and crimes of passion. No serial killers, no messing with kids and no victims that you can sympathize with. BUT if those do still fall into the cozy categories than I think mine will too. 

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Re: For Cozy Writers
« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2018, 06:02:06 PM »
The whole 'write to market' thing been bouncing around in my head and lately, it seems the market now favors recipes, jokes, and crimes of passion. No serial killers, no messing with kids and no victims that you can sympathize with.

My victims are often sympathetic. My criminals are often sympathetic. I've had a few criminals (3 murderers off the top of my head) under 18. Again, in my mind, it comes back to tone. If you're wrapping these elements in an appealing package, readers accept them.