Genre Basics - Cozy Mystery - article

The cozy mystery genre is sort of a sub-genre of the mystery genre because it involves many of the same aspects as a mystery novel – crime solving, sleuthing, and so on – but just in a cozier fashion. These books are usually targeted towards women, and women are usually the protagonists of the stories. Manuscripts in this genre range in length between 65-90K words. Many cozy mysteries are approached as a series, and the sleuth is the recurring character from one book to the next.

Typically, these stories are set in quaint little towns that experience a murder or other mysterious happening, and the woman who solves the crime is usually an amateur, not a professional detective or crime-solver; often, someone close to her is, though. She can have any profession, but she is usually well-educated, insightful and intuitive, because those qualities all make it believable that she is capable of solving these crimes. 

One rather notable author in this cozy mystery genre is Joanne Fluke, whose “Cookie Jar” series protagonist is Hannah, a woman who manages a bakery in small-town Minnesota. Fluke’s stories – a somewhat lengthy series at this point – hit all of the markers of cozy mysteries, and they have been hugely successful. 

It’s important when undertaking this genre to remember that your target audience is going to be someone like your protagonist: intuitive, interested and insightful. Count on your reader being a woman, but it isn’t unheard of for a man to take a trip to the Cookie Jar bakery, either!

The national organization that supports this genre is the Mystery Writers of America.

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  • Hi, I am trying to start writing a book. I've actually started and have 5 pages written, but now I am not sure if the topic I've chosen or the story plot that I've chosen will be a good one. Where can I post a story plot online to find out if it will be a good one to continue working on?