This is one of those posts meant to convince myself as much as anyone else. I mentioned yesterday that I’ve been going back and forth between two projects and that the one I always end up returning to is the cozy novel. On the surface this may not seem the most likely scenario. The bulk of my writing out and about is firmly in the crime/noir/pulp model with lots of violence and bad language and an inordinate amount of strippers. But when it comes to my novels, I find it hard to keep to that same style. So here are a few of my novel writing tendencies that align much more with the cozy school than the hardboiled school.
1) I write short. Usually 70k-75k – This is almost exactly the perfect length for a cozy novel
2) I like writing characters more than plotting – While cozies may have initially started as a puzzle-driven field, the last few years have seen it become the genres home for the character study. Plots are still important, but a cozy series lives or dies with it’s characters.
3) I like small stakes – I don’t like global conspiracies or HUGE stakes. I like personal stories where murder is about simple things. This is the cozy’s main claim to fame.
4) I like to write about writers as my main characters – Aside from literary fiction, cozies have the highest number of writers as main characters than any other genre. And even character who aren’t explicitly writers have some sort of literary tie such as bookseller, librarian, agent, etc.
5) I work best in a rigid formula – Give me infinite possibilities and my creativity seizes up like a cold motor. But give me a heap of rules and formulas and I thrive. There is no more rigidly formulaic genre in the mystery field than the cozy (with the possible exception of the PI novel)
6) I still want to publish with a major house and see my books on the shelves of bricks and mortar book stores – Cozies are the most popular mystery genre out there. Just look at the new release shelves and the bestseller lists of indie stores and you’ll see 4-5 cozies for every other genre.
So when you take all of that into effect, it seems cozies are my best home for right now and I have a great book I’m working on. Given a perfect world, I’d write PI novels like the ones I grew up reading in the 90s, but I think that field is still pretty dead and I don’t have anything to offer that’s exciting enough to break me out of that pack. But my cozy novel gives me the same opportunity to shove all of my real world thoughts and problems and issues and ideas and commentary into a narrative mouthpiece, which is really all I’m looking for.