There are so many reasons to write cozy mysteries. In my book, there are 10 of them.
The mystery genre is huge. From thrillers, suspense, and police procedurals on one end, domestic suspense and straight mysteries in the middle to capers and cozies on the other side of the spectrum, there is, literally, something for everyone.
No matter the sub-genre, mysteries draw you in with the promise of a puzzle. That and the promise of justice being served, something which doesn’t always happen in real life.
Now I love the tense emotional build-up, the back and forth of the cat and mouse chase, and the heart-stopping suspense that comes with the darker side of mysteries, particularly domestic suspense. But cozies…ahhh, cozies…they offer something so much more than just the mystery.
As a writer, I love the fact that I get to hang out with a cast of characters that are interesting and unique and would be my friends in real life (well, not the killer, but almost everyone else). I love the challenge of figuring out how to write what I like to call ‘happy murder’, because cozies aren’t dark and brooding. They aren’t sad and filled with distress and the dark side of things. They are…funny and warm and…cozy.
Striking a balance between the gravity of murder and the tone of a cozy takes some deftness. I’m always up for that challenge!
As a reader, I love so many other things about the cozy genre. They are about so much more than just the solving of a murder. They are about community. Relationships. Setting. These things give them a wide-spread appeal because they speak to our collective consciousness in terms of what we’d like our world to look like, both in the place we live and with whom we live our lives. They give us a community we’d love to be part of, and through the immersive writing of so many wonderful authors, we get to do just that. We get to visit with friends and be alongside them in their lives as well as during crime-solving adventures.
Here are just some of what readers love about cozy mysteries, which you, as a writer, need to think about.
10 Reasons to Write Cozy Mysteries
The Punny Titles and Charming Covers
The first thing you notice about cozy mysteries is that the majority of them have punny titles, and they also have wonderfully appealing covers. They show readers a glimpse of the world they’re about to enter and the charming life that lives between the covers.
Flour in the Attic, from my Bread Shop series, was named one of the best title one year in a cozy title round-up. A Murder Yule Regret and The Walking Bread are other favorites from that series. Yes, I had fun naming them.
Pleating for Mercy is the first in series book for the Harlow Cassidy Magical Dressmaking series, which is a paranormal cozy series. Bodice of Evidence and Bobbin for Answers are two other favorites. Punny titles are the best.
When you write cozies, you get to get your pun on!
Your Cozy Characters Become Friends
Cozy mysteries are flush with warm and caring people. The sleuths are smart, clever, and appealing. They may be unique and sassy. The sidekicks are equally winsome. There usually is some sort of love interest with someone who compliments the sleuth perfectly. These people truly feel like friends to loyal readers, which is what makes a long-running cozy series so wonderful. Readers get to hang out with these folks and it’s so satisfying.
When I sit down to write, it is truly like hanging out with friends. I get to play PI with Lola Cruz, or sleuth with Harlow Cassidy or Ivy Culpepper, or do some bibliomancy with Pippin Lane Hawthorne. Friends on the page can be just as important as friends in real life.
The Locales You Get to Call Home
Beach towns. A mountain oasis. A close-knit community in the city. An English moor. A rural farmhouse. Wherever cozies are set, there is sure to be a ton of charm, and it will likely be incredibly picturesque. Being inside the pages of a book with a charming local is akin to visiting the place in real life. It’s almost like having another (or many) home.
My Bread Shop mystery series is set in a fictional town (named Santa Sofia after my daughter) on the central California coast.
Bliss, Texas, from my Harlow Cassidy Magical Dressmaking series (a paranormal cozy) is a fictional small town in Texas.
Love Alaska? Crazy about the Outer Banks? If you have an affinity for a particular type of locale, you can set your cozy mystery there and be there in your imagination.
A “Happy Murder” that Let’s You Sleep at Night
In a cozy mystery, blood, violence, and sex happen off the page. A murder is a murder, of course. In a cozy, by definition, there is death. There might be people put in harm’s way. There probably will be a progression in a relationship. But cozy readers don’t have to get the down-and-dirty details of these things—and neither does the cozy mystery writer.
The bad stuff exists and we know it exists, but we’re slightly removed from them in a cozy.
Inevitably, someone stumbles upon a body that has some connection to the sleuth, either directly or peripherally. That’s typically as dark as it gets.
More often than not, cozy mysteries sleuths have some sort of furry friend as a companion. Whether they’re dogs, cats, horses, teacup pigs, or goats, chances are good a much-loved pet will make an appearance. They’re often on the covers, too!
In Bread Over Troubled Water, book 8 in the Bread Shop cozy series, Agatha the pug (named after the grand dame of cozies) is the one to discover the body.
In my Harlow Cassidy paranormal cozies, Thelma Louise (the grand dame of Sundance Kids) is a cantankerous goat who adds some comedy. She’s also on every cover.
Bottom line, furry friends are fun! If you’re a pet lover, writing cozies is a great opportunity to make them a big part of your book.
A Touch of Romance
Romance is never the focal point of a cozy mystery, but it’s usually an element. The typical scenario is a romantic prospect in law enforcement that forces contact with the sleuth. I tend to go the opposite way in my cozy mystery series. In the Bread Shop cozies, Emmaline Davis, Ivy Culpepper’s best friend is the law enforcement character. The romance comes in the form of Miguel Baptista, a restauranteur.
In my Harlow Cassidy Magical Dressmaking series, the love interest is an architect with the town. The sheriff is not a relation, and another deputy is an old schoolmate, but not really a friend.
Writing romance can be fun, especially when it is part of a secondary plot line. You get to sprinkle it in without it taking over.
The star of a cozy mystery is an amateur sleuth. They aren’t trained in law enforcement. They may or may not have some special skill that helps them with their investigation, but it’s typically not formal training. This makes it fun and easy for readers to follow right alongside the sleuth in the crime-solving. It makes the sleuth very relatable and easy to love because readers can root for their success. Remember, they’re like a friend!
These are all the reasons they are also so fun to write. Your expertise doesn’t have to be in law enforcement because you, like your sleuth, are an amateur.
A Cozy Hook
Cozy mysteries have cozy hooks. That means there is always a hobby or creative interest or some other something that is the central focus of the cozy world in any particular series. Coffee or tea houses, culinary connections or bakeries (Yeast of Eden is the bread shop in my Bread Shop series), fiber or fabric tie-ins like sewing (my Harlow Cassidy Magical Dressmaking series), or other hobbies like photography, horseback riding, motorcycles, painting, knitting, or book shops. Whatever your jam (oh! Even making jam), you can make it the hook for your cozy series.
The Puzzle of an Intriguing Mystery
Every mystery on the mystery spectrum offers a puzzle to be solved. The reader may know what happened and know things the protagonist doesn’t know (as in suspense), or they may know just what the sleuth knows and be right alongside, or even ahead, in the crime-solving. Either way (or somewhere in between), the mystery drives the plot. The puzzle of the mystery brings a reader to the mystery in the first place. The other elements of a cozy keep those cozy readers along for the ride.
As a cozy writer, you get to craft mysteries that intrigue or entertain readers.
Justice is Served and Good Prevails
One of the reasons mysteries have wide appeal is the underlying end result of the bad guys being brought to justice. Good prevails. In cozy mysteries, this is especially true. The crime is solved, justice is served, and the community and life of the sleuth get to move forward, with the reader in tow. This isn’t how it always happens in real life, but in cozies, it absolutely is.
This means you always get to create a happy ending, no matter how many murders your sleuth stumbles upon. There is an automatic suspension of disbelief in the cozy mystery world. Who in their right mind would live in Cabot Cove, after all? You don’t have to worry about that as a cozy writer. All’s well the end’s well in the cozy world and your sleuth will soon be ready to solve another crime.
Cozy mysteries are a special mystery sub-genre. They are so fun to write. Give it a try!
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