And What About Cozy Mysteries?

Hey-o, squiders. Sorry for missing Tuesday’s post. I have no excuse except, uh…oh. Oh yeah. I had volunteer commitments. Okay, that’s a pretty good excuse.

So, as I move toward trying my hand at my first cozy mystery during November, I’ve been reading how to write mystery books for fun and profit. I read two, specifically, helpfully titled How to Write Mysteries and How to Write a Mystery respectfully, and am now done with both.

They were middling helpful, especially when talking about plot. A lot of the books were on more universal stuff, like creating characters or writing dialogue, which was less useful. And both contained extremely outdated information on agents and publishing. Good times.

But neither of them really touched on cozies as a subgenre. They both mentioned them, but were obviously confused by the concept. The second book author noted that he only included them because people had asked why he wasn’t. Both dismissed them as “an English sort of mystery” and didn’t have a lot to say.

Which was, of course, not useful for me, planning a cozy mystery. But I also found it interesting. These are older books–the first is from 1989 and the second is from 1995–but cozies are not a new phenomena. Off the top of my head, the Cat Who books by Lilian Jackson Braun are very definitely cozies–and the inspiration for all following cozy series that include animal sidekicks–and the first of those was published in the mid-60s.

(And the Cat Who books also take place in America, and in Chicago for the first few, if I recall correctly. What does an “English sort” of mystery mean? Maybe they’re thinking of Miss Marple, which is probably also a cozy series.)

Now, if I had the time and inclination, perhaps I could pick up a much more modern book on writing mysteries, and I would probably find a larger section on cozies. There seems to be several dozen series going at any point in time, with new ones starting all the time. I was a bit concerned, when I first started thinking about my paranormal cozy series, because I couldn’t find any others, but now I know of at least three other paranormal series, so all is well.

But at this point I’m also running out of learning time and need to get on to the doing phase of things. (Though I may cruise around the Internet and see if there’s any good blog posts or YouTube videos on the subject.) So now I’m on phase 2, which is market research, as I’m calling it.

Market research consists of reading cozies from the last few years and analyzing things like setting, structure, characters, and plot. I’ve got two out from the library. The one I’m currently reading came out in September, and is called Murder Goes to Market. So far I’m enjoying it!

(It’s third person, which is interesting. Most cozies are first person.)

(Also, reading cozies is definitely more fun than reading probably too old books about writing mysteries.)

Still weird, though, how those older books just brushed the subgenre off. There are probably numbers, somewhere, of what subgenres sell the most and how much money they’re making. They do it for books in general, right, so someone probably tracks by genre and specifics. I would think cozies have to be a sizeable chunk of the market, given how many are published (and how quickly you can read one).

Ah well. Onward!

(Favorite cozies, squiders?)

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