Kindle Forum banner
1 - 2 of 2 Posts

· 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
·
6,763 Posts
juliatheswede said:
I can't help but feel that most of the stuff mentioned here fits a regular murder mystery, not necessarily a cozy. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but when someone tells me their story is a cozy, I think first and foremost that this will be a fluffy, light murder mystery, emphasis on the light and fluffy. Absolutely no gore and often lots of humor. I consider Christie a traditional mystery writer more than a cozy mystery writer. At least the stories with Poirot.
Originally, most of the classic mystery writers were considered "cozy" writers. It was simply an insult hurled at them by writers of hard-boiled fiction. And it included anything not gritty. There is a generation gap now surrounding the Cozy -- those who started in on cozy books from before the mystery publishing crash of the 1990s, and those who started reading them after. It's very upsetting for those of use who love old cozies -- and yes, they are cozy, and clean and comfortable books, about murder -- for the category to narrow so much it excludes every single one of the top writers in our field.

But you are right that what is being published today -- and the audience that looks for those books -- is much narrower and more strict, and I think that any writer who wants to write a cozy should be aware of that. If your book is exactly like the previous generation's cozy mysteries, then it probably should be called "traditional" even though it is actually cozy in tone and subject matter.

However, I do think that the genre is broadening out again. It was always the very most popular genre of all, and the one with the widest variety of subgenres, but it got slammed by a series of forces in publishing. (I wrote about this in a blog post "The Murder of the Mystery Genre.")

It seems that the general audience is coming back, and that means that restrictions are going to go out the window -- but new ones will form.

Camille
 
1 - 2 of 2 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