Is there a formula for writing cozy mysteries? Many of you are out there going "Are you joking! We are pantsers!" Okay, calm down. I am a pantser too - meaning that my material writes itself and that the storyline develops as it is written. I have a rough outline, a rough idea of where I want things to go as the author, but my characters have this weird tendency to want to define their own lives and write their own stories.
So what is this formula stuff? We can define this as a story having a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the end, especially in a cozy mystery, good prevails over evil. As writers, we to tie our stories up nicely, and not leave any loose ends.
With mysteries, we are also looking at there being a crime, someone who commits the crime, and someone who solves the crime. With cozy mysteries, the crime is solved without blood, gore, and curse words. It often involves friends and/or family, and the setting is often within a community.
A good cozy mystery has a hook of some kind, something that draws the reader in. It could be a profession, a craft, food (I love mysteries that include recipes, and anything involving chocolate or coffee), or a locale (I stories that take place in both large cities and small towns).
The protagonist needs to be developed in a manner that allows them to have certain skills, or to have access to people that do. (Having said that, I am sick to death of female protagonists who husband/boyfriend/significant other is somehow involved in law enforcement.)
The murder/crime needs to be both interesting and plausible. And there need to be a few red herrings along the way.
What it comes down to is that the formula for writing a cozy mystery is to write a tight story that is interesting, involves a few brain cells, and leaves its readers with a feeling of time well spent.
(c) February 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.