Just for Fun: Outside the Box

In life, we often find ourselves doing things the same way, day in and day out.  Today let’s try to branch out a little bit.  Just for fun today, let’s take a moment and write something in a different style or genre than usual. It doesn’t have to be a complete work or even something you’d share, but make a solid effort to give it a try.  Do you usually write prose?  How about trying a quick poem or verse from an ancient text your character came across?  Do you usually write horror?  Perhaps today you can write a few paragraphs of your main character’s biography, focusing in on a happier time in his or her life.  Whatever you write, try to experiment with style, genre, form or other parameters. If you are comfortable doing so, share your work in the comments, on the forums or via a link to it on your blog.

Advertisements

13 Tips for Cozy Mystery Writers

cozy mysteryThis is another in my series on Genre Writing Tips. I hadn’t really thought about cozy mysteries as I worked through from Children’s Books to Steampunk. A member of my critique group reminded me because that’s what she writes. Cozy mysteries, in the style of Murder She Wrote–tricky but non-gory plots with eminently cheerful characters that you’d like for a best friend.

That’s about all I knew about them, so I polled my PLN and Tweeple and anyone I could find about what the characteristics of ‘cozy mysteries’ were. Here’s what I got:

  1. The mystery is not bloody or ghoulish. It’s softened, the gory parts alluded to rather than spelled out.
  2. The lead character is likely to be an amateur detective, akin to Murder She Wrote, rather than seasoned as you’d find in a detective mystery.
  3. The reader likely will identify with the main character so s/he can be flawed but in a human way. For example, a Backstrom-like character (a cigar-smoking alcoholic with a knack for solving crimes)–or Dexter (a likeable serial killer)–would never lead a cozy mystery. Agatha Christie’s Ms. Marple would (although, not the Ms. Marple starring Joan Hickson. Of course, I’ve only watched one so far, may not watch the rest).
  4. Since the main character is NOT a detective, rather an amateur, s/he often has a good friend/mate/confidante who is knowledgeable and can pass along important information to her.
  5. Character development of the lead character is important. S/he is robustly fleshed out so the reader thoroughly understands their motivation, weaknesses and strengths.
  6. While most novels require growth in the characters, that’s not so important in cozy mysteries. Often, the mystery has thrown our beloved main character out of sorts and the goal is to return her/him to normal by solving the mystery. The need that s/he experience personal growth is secondary.
  7. The feeling of the book is ‘fun’, not stressful. Often, this is because the main character is bumbling through an important job s/he’s an amateur at, but it could be generated by the other characters, setting, or plot points.
  8. The setting is likely to be a small, picturesque town or village.
  9. Very little sex is included. If there is any, it’s subtle and dealt with invisibly.
  10. Lots of these novels have long-term love interests, but not all.
  11. There is little or no profanity or violence.
  12. The story has a happy ending–the criminal is brought to justice and balance is restored.
  13. Right and wrong are clearly defined; there’s no moral dithering. Murder is wrong and catching the guilty returns society to its rightful balance.

If you want more on cozy mysteries, read this very thorough guide to cozy mysteries (it has just about everything) and MysteryCozy.com has a series of fascinating articles on this genre.

More characteristics of writing genres:

10 Tips for Steampunk Writers

14 Tips for Young Adult Writers

10 Tips for Picture Book Writers


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, adjunct professor of technology in education, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

The Writers Circle: Getting Un-Stuck

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

If you ever get stuck for an idea while writing, or if you ever have trouble getting your characters to behave within the world you’ve defined, what do you do to keep the writing going while at the same time trying to figure out how to work through the difficulty? Do you just plug through? Do you stop and go back to planning?  Do you leave a note and plan to come back to the section later?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Writing across Genres

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

What do you think about writing in different genres? Should well-known authors stick to what they have become known for writing or is it good for them to branch out and try to conquer more than one genre? Do you feel the same way for aspiring authors? Do you write in only one genre or do you write in several?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.