Kindle Forum banner
1 - 20 of 44 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've just started the writing of my first Cozy mystery which will be under a pen name. I have mapped out most of the Tropes for a mystery and worked those into my outline, however before I get too far into it I was wanting to identify specific cozy mystery tropes.

I have read the book 'Writing The Cozy Mystery' by Nancy Cohen which was great and highly recommended.

So I was wondering if members here are aware of any other resources that might prove to be helpful specifically for Cozies?

One burning question I have, and would greatly appreciate feedback on, is my outline for the new mystery in the new series see's the murder taking place in chapter 6. The other chapters are all world building and character introduction. Is chapter 6 of about 21 too far in or okay for Cozies? In a regular mystery I would have it in chapter 1 but I suspect cozies may be a little different.

Would greatly appreciate your thoughts, ideas and suggestions
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
224 Posts
I had a stack of recent, trad published cozies sitting by my desk so I thought I'd check for you.

1. Body appears in Chapter One, on page 14 of 288 (but this one was odd, because the body was briefly discovered, then disappeared, the police didn't believe it ever existed, and it didn't reappear until page 70).

2. Body first mentioned in Chapter Four, on page 38 of 293.

3. Death first mentioned in Chapter Five, on page 38 of 318.

4. Body in Chapter Four, page 18 of 279.

5. Body on page 64 of 312 (book uses dates instead of traditional chapters, so it's nine days in but some entries are shorter than typical chapters).

In these examples, the murder is first discovered or mentioned anywhere between 5% and 20% of the way through the book, with an average of about 11%. It's a small sample size, but the pattern is consistent with my first inclination, which was to say "the discovery of the body in a murder mystery is usually the inciting event, which takes place around the 1/8 mark."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
ElizaDee said:
I had a stack of recent, trad published cozies sitting by my desk so I thought I'd check for you.

1. Body appears in Chapter One, on page 14 of 288 (but this one was odd, because the body was briefly discovered, then disappeared, the police didn't believe it ever existed, and it didn't reappear until page 70).

2. Body first mentioned in Chapter Four, on page 38 of 293.

3. Death first mentioned in Chapter Five, on page 38 of 318.

4. Body in Chapter Four, page 18 of 279.

5. Body on page 64 of 312 (book uses dates instead of traditional chapters, so it's nine days in but some entries are shorter than typical chapters).

In these examples, the murder is first discovered or mentioned anywhere between 5% and 20% of the way through the book, with an average of about 11%. It's a small sample size, but the pattern is consistent with my first inclination, which was to say "the discovery of the body in a murder mystery is usually the inciting event, which takes place around the 1/8 mark."
Fascinating ... thanks for taking the time. Yes I was sure I had read some Christie mysteries in the past were the inciting incident took place some way into the story.

Based on the other feedback above though it did get me thinking and I have come up with a cunning plan (over lunch) to introduce a second victim right on page one
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
224 Posts
MooreFiction said:
Fascinating ... thanks for taking the time. Yes I was sure I had read some Christie mysteries in the past were the inciting incident took place some way into the story.

Based on the other feedback above though it did get me thinking and I have come up with a cunning plan (over lunch) to introduce a second victim right on page one
You're welcome! For Christie, if memory serves, it varied, depending on whether Poirot happened to be on the scene when a murder just happened to occur (in which case, it happened a bit into the story) or whether the story would start with Inspector Japp showing up and asking for help--but that's a bit different since he's a professional detective, when most cozies now have amateur solvers. (Plus it's not a very good gauge of what sells now, as opposed to in the 1930s...)

I also noticed that, in the book I mentioned above in which the murder happened the latest of the five, the woman who eventually becomes the victim is introduced at exactly the 12.5% mark, so the inciting event in that case is her appearance--and that book won an Agatha for best first novel...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,763 Posts
Modern "cozy" mysteries are a subgenre of what used to be called Cozy and is now called "traditional." If you break a rule, you can just start calling it traditional mystery.

Basically, publishers became hardened into certain formulas, and the audience came to expect those formulas -- but there is a larger audience that likes things a little looser. (It's just that that audience is harder to promote to.)

IMHO, if you want to delay the body in a cozy, you can do it. And you can even please the hard-wired cozy readers who want things to happen in step with the formula... but you have to be sure that there is some driving, page-turning element that happens at least by page one. You have to have something for the amateur sleuth to be investigating, and it has to feel like it's central to the story, and is a puzzle, and is important.

Now, if you are writing for the slightly wider cozy audience, you have more leeway. Agatha Christie fans (and Dorothy Sayers and fans of all the "Golden Age" writers) are fine with a slower pace if you are giving them a rich world, and they feel you are setting up the suspects and story, etc. You can, sometimes, delay the murder to very late in the book.

A while ago I wrote a blog post about how to delay finding a body in a cozy (and also why I think it's important not to rush it). I think I included a few techniques in it. The main one that comes to mind is what I call the "Jaws" method. If you MUST have a quiet setup before the crime enters the lives of the characters, give us a teaser scene at the beginning so we know where it's going. Just like in Jaws, where we see a shark attack before the characters are aware of it.

Edit to add: here's the blog post, Delaying the Body in a Cozy

Camille
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
daringnovelist said:
Modern "cozy" mysteries are a subgenre of what used to be called Cozy and is now called "traditional." If you break a rule, you can just start calling it traditional mystery.

Basically, publishers became hardened into certain formulas, and the audience came to expect those formulas -- but there is a larger audience that likes things a little looser. (It's just that that audience is harder to promote to.)

IMHO, if you want to delay the body in a cozy, you can do it. And you can even please the hard-wired cozy readers who want things to happen in step with the formula... but you have to be sure that there is some driving, page-turning element that happens at least by page one. You have to have something for the amateur sleuth to be investigating, and it has to feel like it's central to the story, and is a puzzle, and is important.

Now, if you are writing for the slightly wider cozy audience, you have more leeway. Agatha Christie fans (and Dorothy Sayers and fans of all the "Golden Age" writers) are fine with a slower pace if you are giving them a rich world, and they feel you are setting up the suspects and story, etc. You can, sometimes, delay the murder to very late in the book.

A while ago I wrote a blog post about how to delay finding a body in a cozy (and also why I think it's important not to rush it). I think I included a few techniques in it. The main one that comes to mind is what I call the "Jaws" method. If you MUST have a quiet setup before the crime enters the lives of the characters, give us a teaser scene at the beginning so we know where it's going. Just like in Jaws, where we see a shark attack before the characters are aware of it.

Edit to add: here's the blog post, Delaying the Body in a Cozy

Camille
Thanks so much Camille. That is great information and clarified a few things for me. So greatly appreciate your help.
I think when I used the word Cozy in my mind I was thinking along the lines of Christie where there was a build to the inciting incident.

I definitely feel that the six chapter lead in is important to my overall story and that there is enough of a hook to pull the reader through. Fingers crossed anyway.

Will go and read your blog post. Again thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
970 Posts
MooreFiction said:
One burning question I have, and would greatly appreciate feedback on, is my outline for the new mystery in the new series see's the murder taking place in chapter 6. The other chapters are all world building and character introduction. Is chapter 6 of about 21 too far in or okay for Cozies? In a regular mystery I would have it in chapter 1 but I suspect cozies may be a little different.
I actually prefer the mysteries that delay the murder, and introduce you to the victim before he/she is The Body. And the cozy genre allows it, so long as you keep the reader's interest otherwise. Most cozies that are series have the sleuth (usually an amateur) and the sleuth's wacky friends and relations, so that can keep things percolating while you're waiting for the corpse to show up. I've continued to follow some series when the murders and the solution to the mysteries were really kinda lame, because the continuing saga of the sleuth's life and the wacky friends kept my interest. But intricate mystery solutions and a boring cast of characters, not so much.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,130 Posts
MooreFiction said:
I definitely feel that the six chapter lead in is important to my overall story and that there is enough of a hook to pull the reader through. Fingers crossed anyway.

Will go and read your blog post. Again thanks
The body didn't show up until the 5 chapter on my third novel. I couldn't move it up because of the set-up. I've seen cozies where the body doesn't even show up until halfway through the book (although I'm usually bored by then).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
282 Posts
Cozies give you a little more latitude to have the body show up later. I always think it's more interesting to see the amateur sleuth interact with the soon to be dearly departed before they actually depart. Delaying the murder gives you an opportunity to plant potential clues regarding motive and potentially show why the sleuth would choose to investigate that particular murderer. Cozies are as much about the relationships between the characters as they are about the murders.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
416 Posts
Ngaio Marsh books take a long time to get to the murder but it never bothers me because I enjoy the writing, but contemporary custom is to introduce the murder early on. Maybe you could introduce another crime/mystery at the start to engage the readers and work your way up to the real case.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,979 Posts
You can delay the body. It can be a good way of establishing multiple motives among your characters.

I'm dabbling with a three act murder mystery play. The first act has the victim wandering around being thoroughly unpleasant to the rest of the cast, only to die at the first curtain. The second act is the bulk of the murder investigation. And then the third act is the twist.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
artan said:
The body didn't show up until the 5 chapter on my third novel. I couldn't move it up because of the set-up. I've seen cozies where the body doesn't even show up until halfway through the book (although I'm usually bored by then).
Thanks for that artan. Yes I have tried to play around with the set up in my story and deleted a chapter. So my body will be showing up in chapter 5 as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
joyceharmon said:
I actually prefer the mysteries that delay the murder, and introduce you to the victim before he/she is The Body. And the cozy genre allows it, so long as you keep the reader's interest otherwise. Most cozies that are series have the sleuth (usually an amateur) and the sleuth's wacky friends and relations, so that can keep things percolating while you're waiting for the corpse to show up. I've continued to follow some series when the murders and the solution to the mysteries were really kinda lame, because the continuing saga of the sleuth's life and the wacky friends kept my interest. But intricate mystery solutions and a boring cast of characters, not so much.
Thanks Joyce. Yes agreed the key will be to keep the readers interest in the build up. I have introduced a mystery with a twist in the first page to ensure it happens which is related to the murder in chapter 5 so hopefully that will work. Defintely think if the characters and their relationships is strong it will carry the reader through
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
jec said:
Cozies give you a little more latitude to have the body show up later. I always think it's more interesting to see the amateur sleuth interact with the soon to be dearly departed before they actually depart. Delaying the murder gives you an opportunity to plant potential clues regarding motive and potentially show why the sleuth would choose to investigate that particular murderer. Cozies are as much about the relationships between the characters as they are about the murders.
Glad to read your comment " I always think it's more interesting to see the amateur sleuth interact with the soon to be dearly departed before they actually depart" as that is how my story unfolds. So thanks
 
1 - 20 of 44 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top