Monday, August 2, 2010


Today, I'm going to talk about Cozies. No, not tea cozies, though, with a bit of irony, tea does play about in the cozy I'm going to talk about, which is . . . the sub-genre of the mystery genre.

I just finished writing my cozy last week. I didn't know I was writing a cozy. Sorry, not up on the hip and happening language of the mystery sub-genre. All I knew was I wanted to write a mystery. I did just that.

Perhaps instinct guided me. Perhaps it was something else. I don't have a clue. All I know is I wrote what I did and it - amazingly - turned out to be, well, a cozy.

First - some basics about cozies: set in a benign environment, little violence, few gory details, amateur sleuth, and mystery solved.

Okay, that's very basic. For a bit more in-depth discussion go here. Now, anything from this point forward references back to this site.

Elements of the Cozy Mystery:
  • no explicit sex
  • no gore or violence
  • no graphic language
  • amateur sleuth
  • centers around a puzzle or whodunnit
  • local setting

Now, in my normal fashion, I'm going to discuss each point in relation to my recently finished (woo-hoo) rough draft.

No Explicit Sex - my characters aren't romping around in the bedroom. Okay, one of them is, but . . . I don't provide any explicit details. I just let you - the reader - know that the character is doing the big nasty.

No Gore or Violence - in Cozies, the gore or violence takes place off the page. Such is - somewhat - the case with my mystery. Not totally, but close.

No Graphic Language - okay, this point doesn't get checked off. My story takes place in the here/now, not some quaint, English village in the 1920s when people didn't cuss like there was no tomorrow. This is one rule I'm bending. I'm allowed to bend a rule here and there. It's my delusional little world after all.

Amateur Sleuth - I have two of those. Woo-hoo.

Centers Around a Puzzle or Whodunnit - there is a murder, after all.

Local Setting - yep, I have that based covered as well.

Did I mention I did this without having a clue how to write (or that I was writing) a cozy mystery? Seriously, no clue at all. I just wrote, the words flowing in a torrent, and then on Friday I researched word-counts for mystery novels (btw, cozies come in between 60 - 70K, and my rough is complete at 60K - coincidence? I think not) and came across the term cozy, which I then researched. Again, I find it very odd that, pretty much, without having a clue, I wrote this rough draft in the first place.

Back to the setting - many cozy mysteries are set in a small town or small section of a larger city. Uh, yeah, big check mark for that one. In addition, the story may center around a tea shop. Uh, give me another big check mark for that one. Yes, there is a tea shop in my novel. This happened a little over half way through the novel. There were no plans for a tea pot when I started this project. None. At. All.

Coincidence? I think not. Instinct? I don't have a clue. I'm not about to question why I was able to insert the majority of elements of a cozy without knowing such elements were a requirement.

Perhaps my years of watching all the British mysteries instilled these concepts into my subconscious. I don't know.

I'm just finding it a bit odd that I have the required elements and the word count. Very. Odd. Indeed.



Davin Malasarn said...

I hope you're having fun with it! The idea of a cozy is very cool to me. I just imagine being curled up in a chair with the rain outside and getting lost in a story.

Scott said...

Davin - I'm having a great time. The writing has been fun and exciting, and I can't seem to stop thinking about the project. I'm itching to get into the editing phase but know I need to have some distance . . . so I just keep staring at my Table of Contents. Ha!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I know Scott Bailey is planning on writing a cozy mystery novella. Now isn't it cool that you've done it first! Haha. I think this is awesome that you did this without knowing it. I definitely wrote Cinders without realizing it was a fantasy. I just wanted to tell a good story.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I mean I STARTED Cinders without knowing it was a fantasy. I kind of wanted to avoid the fantasy thing...but I didn't. :)

Scott said...

Alleged – I’ve only actually titled chapters once before. This whole cozy mystery project has been different from the get go . . . and I’m so loving it, and my ToC.

Michelle – I don’t normally name chapters. It just happened this time around. Go figure. I just go with the flow and hope for the best.

Michelle – Scott and I are just brilliant . . . we both agree about that. Ha! All I wanted to do was write a mystery. I guess all the years of reading Mary Higgins Clark subconsciously instilled the elements of a cozy – though I think her books don’t neatly fall into that definition – in my mind. I guess my subconscious was just waiting for me to write a mystery . . . which I did.

At the end of the day, genres aside, we all want to tell good stories. Genres exist so bookstores know where to put the books on the shelves. Good stories exist so people will keep reading.

You know what I love about Borders? They have the tables right as you walk in with books from every genre. Woo-hoo! That’s how life should be.