W is for Willpower #A to Z Challenge

notepad courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net
photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Willpower is the determination to finish what we start, no matter what. For the cozy mystery, the easy option is to write the end first or at least just after the first act.

For this genre, I find it important to know where you’re finishing up if you want an easier life.

It makes it faster to plan an effective route, choose the best clues and insert them as you go. It’s almost like drawing a map through your Table of Contents–not sure if that makes sense but I see each chapter following the next like a river. All my characters then embark on suitable boats and sail along with various diversions and dilemmas en route.

But having the end in sight helps me pull them (and me) through the rough water of the middle. And when the end is written, I’m far less likely to give up.

Again, like the first chapter, the final chapter may be written and rewritten. But at least it’s there as my safe harbour after a stormy passage.

It bolsters my willpower and ensures I keep going on to the end.



V for Variation #A to Z Challenge

paper flowers
photo by satit_srihin courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

A lot of fuss is made about formula fiction. Critics complain that cozy mysteries are all the same.

But the variation in the best cozy mysteries is infinite. The characters, settings, plot points are always different.

And cozy mystery buffs like the basic formula of an amateur sleuth solving a not-too-horrid murder in the face of opposition from police (sometimes) and villain (always).

A good book will sell a good series. Those of us who love them swallow them like chocolates. We are truly addicted. We are comfortable knowing that the books will follow a puzzle formula that we love. We are comfortable knowing that good will triumph and restore the world order.

The V could have stood for value because…   or villain because … or vamp because there usually is one.

It certainly could stand for valor as the main characters stand strong in their belief in justice –not always conventional but always understood to be on the side of the good guys.

Are you a cozy mystery reader or writer? What value do you gain from a good example of the genre? Who would you recommend?

U for Unfinished #A to Z Challenge

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
photo by David Castillo Dominici courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Gaudi started work on the construction of the Sagrada Familia in 1882.  Now almost a century after his death, work to finish the build is still moving ahead. But even unfinished, the wondrously sculpted Roman Catholic cathedral attracts millions of visitors per year.

So what has this to do with your cozy mystery?

  1. Whatever the problems, never give up.
  2. Even unfinished, your writing always has something to say. You may decide to rework your novel to make it work. You may decide to lift sections to use in other books. Nothing you do is ever wasted unless you let it be.
  3. A book takes readers on a journey. Enhance it. Let your characters travel. A recent Amazon bestseller had  reviewers praise it for its travel descriptions although they felt the story lacked pace.
  4. Nothing like fleeing through a mysterious building to add suspense to your cozy.

Revisit your Unfinished Manuscripts

My unfinished manuscripts sit in boxes under the bed, in filing cabinets in the garage, on my hard drive. When I do look at them, I am always surprised by scenes I had forgotten, characters who scream to be allowed to tell their stories.

It’s always worth taking a look again–maybe expand a short story or reduce a novel to a novella. If the problem is plot failure. rework the outline.

The finished work could always add to your Kindle back list The more the merrier when it comes to sales.

Life lessons in editing, writing, and marketing