All genres have specific reader expectations. They are what help authors ensure they provide a satisfying experience for the reader.
The cozy mysteries may have the clearest delineation of expectations of any genre. Cozy readers want and trust that these will be met. If they’re not, you will quickly lose diehard fans of the genre.
Here are those all-important cozy mystery genre expectations:
- Cozies are low-key mystery novels with little to no blood and guts. All of the violence happens off the page. Readers don’t come to cozies to see the murder happen in realtime, so keep that in mind.
- Cozies feature an amateur sleuth. No professional crime-solvers, please! The professional law enforcement characters come in the form of supporting characters only.
- Cozies center around a puzzle both the sleuth and the reader try to solve. All mysteries are puzzles. Cozies are of the feel-good variety.
- Any sex is off the page. There can and probably should be romantic subplots. Who doesn’t like a little romance, after all? But keep your cozies clean!
- Cozies are typically set in a small town, neighborhood, or village. This doesn’t mean it has to be set in the perineal small town. You have leeway here. A defined area within a city works fine. A NY borough, for example, can easily fit the bill.
- The sleuth’s community plays a significant role in the story. A tight-knit community is a really important element of the the cozy. This is why a neighborhood setting can work. The appeal is partially the definable area in which the sleuth lives and in which the crime takes place, but the community gives the setting personality and charm.
- Cozies are usually part of a series and have a series arc. Cozy readers love their favorite genre. Give them a series to invest in.
- Cozies have a ‘hook’ (or theme) of some sort as a distinguishing feature of the series. Culinary cozies, pet-themed, fiber-based like sewing, knitting, needlepoint, and crochet, and bookshops are just a few. Check out Cozy-Mystery.com for a comprehensive list.
- Deductive reasoning, common sense, logic, and observation are used to solve the murder. The sleuth has to be clever and use the aforementioned skills. No bumbling through the crime-solving, please!
- By the end of the story, the crime is solved and justice is served. Justice doesn’t always prevail in real-life, but it definitely does in the cozy mystery. Readers expect the criminal to be held accountable for their crime(s).
Keep these reader expectations in mind as you write your cozy mysteries and your readers will keep clamoring for more.
And remember to check out the resource books for writing a cozy mystery.
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