Friday, October 13, 2017

Writing the Cozy Mystery - Part 1 Mystery, Suspense or Horror?

by Elva Cobb Martin

I've had a cozy mystery novel on the back burner for quite a while and have just decided to pull it up to the front burner. You are invited to trek along with me as I refresh my thinking about mysteries in general and this cozy book idea specifically on my next several blogs. Of course, my cozies will always have a good dose of romance!

To start with I've refreshed my understanding of the difference between Mystery and Suspense novels, and also Horror novels.

Here's a fave mystery writer's definition of Mystery: 
A Mystery is a story that has a crime already committed (preferably violent like a homicide) and the suspect is unknown until the end of the story. Mysteries can be broken down into sub-genres like Hard-Boiled Mystery, Police Procedure, Detective Stories, Cozy Mystery, Legal or Medical Mysteries, etc.

A Suspense novel is where the suspect may be be known to the reader, but the thrust of the story is the protagonist's attempts to catch, stop, or overcome the antagonist before a murder or mayhem can be committed.

Another interesting break down I've seen is the difference between Crime/Mystery, Suspense, and Horror stories relating to four aspects:

1) The Murder 
2) The Secrets 
3)  The Question
4) The Appeal

The Murder:
Crime/Mystery: The body is discovered close to the beginning.
Suspense: We anticipate the murder.
Horror: We see the murder happen in real time.

The Secrets
Crime/Mystery: We know none of the secrets until later.
Suspense: We know half the secrets; the characters know none.
Horror: We know all the secrets.

The Question
Crime/Mystery: Who did this and why?
Suspense: Will the character live or die?
Horror: How and when will the character die?

The Appeal
Crime/Mystery: Intellectual Curiosity.
Suspense: Worry and Concern
Horror: Gut Reaction

So now that I've gotten that review freshened in my mind, I will be ready next time to delve into the specifics of Cozy Mysteries.

Do you like mysteries? Do you  like to read Robert Whitlow's legal thrillers? Many of us call him the Christian version of John Grisham. WHO doesn't like Agatha Christie or Perry Mason, Monk, Colombo, Murdock, or Father Brown?  My husband will watch most of these series with me on TV. There are several good mystery series, but my favorite are cozy mysteries. In my next blog I'll tell you why and define what makes them "cozy."

Would love to hear about your fave mystery writer. And please do share this on your social media by clicking on the small icons below.

Elva Cobb Martin
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