Writing a Cozy Mystery: Part 1 – Why?

Yes, why? And why blog about it?

Perhaps you want to write a mystery novel, too. My hope is that sharing my experience will help you write your first mystery.

Describing how I puzzle through the many choices and what I think of them will mean you’ll know the solution to my mystery novel, so if you want to read the book and be surprised, stop reading now.

If you want, however, to see how I work on my first mystery, join in, and read on!

I have written screenplays and sold one, but found the experience unsatisfactory. So I turned to prose fiction, and recently finished the initial draft of my first novel. It’s about cowboy outlaws and I set it in Southern California in 1877, which decision meant a lot of research. The task took four years and sprawled into a 157,000 words. When I looked at the two reams of paper that are the printed copy, I thought revising it was not the best way for me improve as a writer.

You see, the cowboy novel had showed me that plotting was my weak point.

Genre novels’ length and plot requirements would force me to plot in advance. Having flirted with the idea of writing a mystery novel, I decided to take the plunge. Here were my subgenre choices: Whodunit, Amateur Detective, Private Detective, Medical Mystery, Courtroom Drama, Suspense/Thriller, and Technical Thriller.

Here’s a webpage where you can read more about the categories and get a short list of famous authors in each:


After some thought, I chose “cozy mysteries,” which go in the category, “amateur sleuth.” To learn how and why, go to Part 2!


About thebooksonmyshelf

Welcome to my blog. There's always a revolution going on in my home -- between art, writing, thinking, and three boy cats, there's rarely a moment without something hopping. I have lived in three major cities and now am in a small wonderful rural town. The proud author of the world's longest first-draft cowboy novel, I am now plowing into the realm of the cozy mystery. Come along and see how my journey through the woods of inexperience turns out.
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4 Responses to Writing a Cozy Mystery: Part 1 – Why?

  1. Shahidah says:

    Okay, I’m going to sit back and watch you do your stuff. 🙂

  2. Shahidah — You are very welcome. I look forward to your observations.

  3. I took the plunge too, so I like what you’re saying. I write semi-cozy mysteries about an octogenarian detective who solves crimes on cruise ships. And yes, plotting in advance is crucial. Otherwise you’ll find yourself still at sea 200,000 words later!

    William Doonan

    • I think that is a wonderful idea. Such a main character would have a different perspective from most sleuths. Life experience alone and knowledge of past fad, slang, and news could be a valuable tool in figuring out the mystery. Best of luck with your series.

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