It has been a L-O-N-G time since I participated in a Sunday Salon – and how I have missed these comfortable connections with fellow participants. I hope that this is the start of a new weekly routine that I can maintain throughout the year.
Goals and resolutions. That is the focus of this first week of the year and quite honestly, I hesitate to make them; they only seem to set me up for failure. But this particular goal has been rattling around in my brain for several months, and I thought perhaps now is the time to give it a voice. A true goal is specific – both in focused details and designated time frame. My goal is neither – and I am fine with that.
I have decided that I would like to write a Cozy Mystery. The idea came to me this past summer as I was working on another novel idea. I was having a difficult time developing the conflict: I knew the protagonist, the antagonist, the setting, the theme, the chronology of events …. but I had no compelling conflict (still working on that, as a matter of fact…) See…. I try so very hard to live life free from any conflict whatsoever – so the thought of intentionally creating conflict for characters that I enjoy is quite difficult.
But then the thought occurred to me that a murder mystery defines the conflict, but needs an author to develop character and setting and intrigue. I have enjoyed reading mysteries since I was eight years old and discovered Nancy Drew – but I would not say that it is my preferred literary genre. Nevertheless, the idea of writing a cozy mystery appeals to my creative side. Cozies are typically void of graphic violence, explicit sex, or vulgar language — all areas that I feel poorly equipped to write. Cozies instead focus on character relationships and (typically) small town settings – two aspects of literature to which I relate most. So the seed of an idea was planted – and continued to sprout through the fall.
I have decided to tackle this project with an organized determination – the way I tackle most assignments in life. I checked out several books on writing a mystery from the local library, and ultimately decided that You Can Write a Mystery by Gillian Roberts best suited my needs. It is now a permanent resource in my personal library.
I then gave thought to the protagonist. The adage, write what you know, seemed appropriate here. Not that I know murder, mind you, but I do know a few “characters” in life. I did some research online and discovered that there is a cozy protagonist of just about every age, profession, and interest. To narrow the focus just a bit, I decided to begin with my own personal interests. My initial list include such interests as:
- Animals (particularly dogs)
- English teachers
- Book store owners
- Thrift shop
- Coffee/Tea/Wine shop
I used the website, Cozy-Mystery, to find suitable series for me to read as research for my writing endeavors. The site is wonderful as it has mysteries categorized by author as well as by theme. The titles are then arranged by order of publication – which for me is essential. I want to read the first book of each series to learn how an author creates the characters and setting. For those books that I find particularly interesting, I will then read subsequent books in the series to learn how these relationships are further developed. Yes, it is a rather long process – but I think it will work well for me.
My goal for this year is to try to read through the box of “firsts” – which I anticipate adding to as time goes on. Ideally I would like to read one cozy a week, but I realize that once school starts that may be a bit ambitious. The good thing about reading cozies, however, is that they read quickly. I am not taking the time to analyze the writing style – that will come later. I just want to develop a feel for the genre and learn what I consider a “good book” I think once I discover what attracts me to a story – I will then know how to focus my own writing.
It is my intention to write brief reviews of these cozies on this blog. I will begin that routine this coming week. In the meantime …. Here’s to a new year with new intentions, aspirations, and beginnings.