#IWSG: Highs and Lows of Writing Mysteries

 


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for the October 5 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox! Be sure you drop in on them and see what they have to say!


Every month, the IWSG poses an optional question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story, and can offer something to get you started!

October 5 question - What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre? 
 
I decided that this question is a good way to work into what I really need to talk about--struggling to write/get it right. And this is, of course, the place to ask for help (more on that in a minute).
 
I'm working with "favorite genre" as my favorite one to write, or at least the one I've written the most: cozy mysteries (which are also among my favorites to read).
 
Here's what is great about cozies as a reader: they are quick, light reads that have a strong plot arc and a pretty much guaranteed happy ending. And not just a happy ending, but one where good triumphs over evil and the bad guy gets his (or her) comeuppance in a satisfying way. A good one has interesting characters and relationships that you care about.
 
As a writer, I appreciate the mystery because, among other things, it gives me a pre-defined story arc. I mean, I know I'm headed for the solution to the crime, and whatever else goes on drives the book in that direction, though sub-plots are expected. I actually also appreciate some of the constraints the genre puts on me: keeping the story clean, developing relationships among characters, and, of course, letting good triumph over evil. It's also a genre where my tendency to see, and at times write, the absurd is okay. Some people even consider it a positive.
 
So what's the problem? I think the problem is that in my latest book my usual light (i.e. slightly humorous) touch escaped me. There are good reasons for that, but the result seems to be a book that is pulling two ways, and a main character who can't decide if she's happy or hopelessly scarred by life. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the idea. I've had sticky plots before, but never this kind of trouble with my main character.
 
That brings me to the need for help. I've had good feedback from my main critique partner, but I'd like a second opinion, not because I doubt the assessment (once some things were pointed out to me they became kind of obvious), but just to help me consider and develop a plan for dealing with the problem.  
 
If you are game to read and give feedback, and especially if you are a reader or writer of cozy mysteries, can you let me know? This doesn't need to be a detailed dive into the book--an overall impression would be helpful. The book stands at about 90K words.

Thanks! 

And this might be a good time to mention how much I appreciate the IWSG for all the support I have found here for years now. Huge thanks to Ninja Captain Alex for founding it!
 
And because I always like to leave you with a photo, here you go, from the current batch I'm editing.
 

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.
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Comments

  1. I really like mysteries and cozy mysteries too. I'd like to try to write one someday. I hope you figure out the problem with your current manuscript.

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  2. For some reason, I stopped reading mysteries a few years ago. They just don't work for me, with rare exceptions. I can't even figure out why. I did like them before. But now, the only genres that work for me consistently are speculative fiction and romance.

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  3. It almost sounds like two different stories, two different directions. Fiddle with what feedback you have and see what direction calls to you. Otherwise, definitely ask for help in the IWSG Facebook group.

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  4. Hi, Rebecca! I haven't read many cozy mysteries. I certainly enjoyed your "Death by Donut" and "Death by Library." I can't take on any commitments right now, because I have a lot of medical things coming up during the next four months. I'm having to back out of the steroids that were helping my vision, and now it is deteriorating again. One day at a time. Good luck sorting out your manuscript challenges. Take care!

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  5. Hmm, yes. Is she basically a happy person or is she scarred for life? Can she overcome her scarredness? Is she just carrying around baggage which is wearing down her usual happiness? Is she suffering a sort of PTSD? Who might come to the rescue? Good luck :)

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  6. Cozy mysteries are my favorite. We're in the Tick Tock anthology together. You could send me your manuscript. When I'm finally done with mine, I could send it to you. Maalgaard4 at gmail.

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  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I have grown to appreciate cozy mysteries more as I get older. I wish you all the best with working out the kinks in your story.

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