Writing a Great Cosy Mystery: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

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Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

Cosy mysteries are fast becoming a popular genre. Instead of gritty and violent crime, cosy mysteries are often more of a gentle jigsaw puzzle of clues for the reader to put together along with an amateur sleuth. Usually set in a small town, cosy mysteries can work well as a series. If written well, the reader will invest in the characters and their lives. I have put together some articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos with tips and guidelines to consider when writing a cosy mystery.

  1. How to Write a Cozy Mystery: 5 Tips and Examples – 2023 – MasterClass

This article from Masterclass identifies 3 elements that can often be found in a cosy mystery novel: the main character is usually an amateur sleuth, the action centred around a small town, and don’t feature scenes with grotesque violence. 5 tips are shared with the writer on how to craft a cosy mystery including throw in lots of misdirection, look for the mystery in everyday life, and create cosy characters readers can relate to.

  1. 5 Tips on How to Write a Cunning but Cozy Mystery Novel – Writer’s Digest (writersdigest.com)

Writer’s Digest says that although cosy mysteries might place the murder off the page, they keep the clues centre stage. The reader is invited to partner with the sleuth in finding the killer before the last page. In the five tips shared here, they remind you to sprinkle a trail of breadcrumbs but add plenty of red herrings, delve into insider knowledge, weave a web of suspects, and let loose with the lying.

  1. Writing Cozy Mysteries: 7 Clues for Coziness | Now Novel

The cosy mystery takes a gentler, character-focused approach to crime. Adult themes are absent or mostly implied. Advice is given to make your sleuths relatable and have them solve crimes by engaging in an integrated way with the community. The communities in cosy mysteries are often close-knit with a few quirky characters. Outline and profile are characters within the community. Think about how a death or other crime impacts each member. How does each person react?

  1. The Mystery of Mysteries: 16 Steps to Writing the Cozy Mystery – WriteOnSisters.com

This article tells us that the appeal of cosy mysteries is that the crime is solved by everyday folks like us who reluctantly participate and solve the mystery using common sense. Cosy mysteries use plot devices to further the confusion of clues, suspects, and timelines. 16 steps to write a cosy mystery are introduced to the writer including revealing all clues to the reader but obscuring them with red herrings and false leads, giving the story a theme, occupation, or hobby to tie it together, and adding humorous components and quirky characters.

  1. Writing the Cozy Mystery (writing-world.com)

Writing World points out some important things to consider when writing a cosy mystery such as the criminal is usually motivated by human traits of greed, jealousy, or revenge. You won’t find many serial or thrill killers in this genre. It discusses cosy characters, settings, and plots.

  1. SPA Girls Podcast – EP133 – Interview With Sara Rosett: Writing Cozy Mysteries | Self Publishing Authors Podcast

In this episode, Sara Rosett talks about the elements of a typical cosy mystery. She advises you to consider adding a vocation like cooking or needlework to connect with your readers and to have a pet. Setting your story in a small town or contained setting like a resort or cruise ship works really well in this genre too.

  1. How To Write A Cozy Mystery With Debbie Young (thecreativepenn.com)

The Creative Penn podcast talks about the increased need for happy stories during difficult times and how readers relate to cosy mysteries. It discusses the essential tropes of a cosy mystery.


Fiction Technician with Jane Kalmes discusses the 5 essential elements of the cosy mystery. She lays the conventions of the genre and gives you guidelines to write your own.

Lisa Siefert talks about the ten essential elements of cosy mysteries.

While cosy mysteries certainly have a lighter tone than their parent crime genre, these murder stories entertain while not forgetting they are dealing with lost lives and the pursuit of justice. Crafting a relatable set of characters, some of them a bit quirky, a small setting, and a sense of justice prevailing can hook your reader in for more than one novel. I hope you have found this week’s column helpful. As always if there are any topics you want me to cover, please get in touch.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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