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Author Topic: Cozies and Community  (Read 10106 times)

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Kathy Wendorff

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Cozies and Community
« on: April 15, 2007, 07:54:39 AM »

I've been following a free on-line writing course by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, which I highly recommend.  Okay, partly because I love Jenny Crusie. Remember how Kathi Taylor once described Elmore Leonard's Rules as an excellent guide to writing Elmore Leonard's books? Well, this course is an excellent guide to writing Jenny Crusie's books (romantic comedy/mystery), which I'd never be able to do, but there's still much food for thought there.  Even better, you get Bob Mayer's point-of-view, and he's a completely different writer (macho thrillers) so you really see that there's no one right way to do anything.

Anyway, the most recent post is about the importance of "community" in drawing a reader into a book. Not just the community of the characters inside the story, but the ways in which the reader feels a part of that community and thus part of the book.

When I read it, I thought, "This is a huge component of the appeal of cozies." There's a lot here for any writer -- her thoughts on "white space" and leaving room for the reader to fill in the blanks with his/her own experience, for instance. But if you write cozies, or just wonder why the heck anyone reads them, you ought to check this out:

http://www.crusiemayer.com/workshop/she-wrote-community/jenny/

Oh, and don't be put off by the academic research quoted early on -- Crusie goes on to translate.

Kathy W.
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Elena

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Re: Cozies and Community
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2007, 10:02:13 AM »

Thanks for the head's up Kathy,

It looks interesting and fun.  I was fortunate enough to attend their appearance at Booked For Murder and found them both delightful.  They are as you say, very different in writing, and their experiences collaborating on a book were worthy of a book.  I'm looking forward to diving in  :D

Elena
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"Head for the round house Maude, they can't corner us there!"

CathyJ

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Re: Cozies and Community
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2007, 08:44:20 PM »

I've been looking at this online workshop, too.  I need to spend more time actually reading the posts in depth, though. 

I drove all the way to Cincinnati in November to go to a Crusie-Mayer workshop, and they're great!

Cathy
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LadyBard

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Re: Cozies and Community
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2007, 06:28:09 AM »

I'm new here.  What exactly is a cozy ?
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Kathy Wendorff

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Re: Cozies and Community
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2007, 06:54:57 AM »

Welcome to MWF, LadyBard! A cozy mystery is one of those difficult to define  but "I know  it when I see it" categories. Cozies usually feature an amateur sleuth investigating a murder in a close-knit social group, have little or no graphic on-stage violence or sex, and have the underlying mindset that evil is an aberration in a basically good world, something whichl can and must be set right. One definition I like is that, in a cozy, nothing really terrible happens to any character you really care about.

Agatha Christie's mysteries are cozies. More current cozy examples include Jill Churchill, Donna Andrews, Rhys Bowen, M.C. Beaton, pretty much any book with a bright cover that features a hobby, recipes, or an offbeat occupation.

Hope that helps!

Kathy W.
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Elena

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Re: Cozies and Community
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2007, 10:15:40 AM »

Love your definition, Kathy - it's the best I've seen.  Especially love the part about checking the covers.

As an addition I've found that "cozy" does not rule out emotional violence, which I find disturbing.  This seems to be a prominent feature of the amateur detective/caterer group.

I'll happily add Kerry Greenwood to your cozy list.

Elena
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JIM DOHERTY

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Re: Cozies and Community
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2007, 02:27:15 PM »

LB,

Another point, cozies usually have a fair-play whodunit plot.  Not every cozy is a whodunit, and whodunit plots are certainly not the exclusive province of the cozy, but it is a plot style particularly identified with the cozy.

FWIW, although cozies generally aren't my cup of tea (no pun intended), I've never particularly liked that term.  It sounds, to me, dismissive and demeaning.  I've been told (although I've never confirmed) that it was coined by a mystery reviewer who didn't like the form, and who, consequently, meant it to be dismissive and demeaning.

I personally prefer the term "traditional mystery." 

Another point to consider.  For many years, the kind of story now saddled with the label "cozy" was, for practical purposes, the only kind of mystery there was.   I say "for practical purposes" because exceptions can always be found, but there was a sense that detective fiction should follow certain forms.  Rules, like those propounded by S.S. Van Dine in the US or Father Ronald Knox in the UK, seemed often to be regarded as inviolable codes, rathe than suggested guidelines, for detective fiction.

The "other" sub-genres of the mystery, the hard-boiled story, the police procedural, the international thriller, etc, etc, all came about after the traditional mystery, and, to some degree, in reaction to, often in reaction against, the traditional mystery.

Until all the other sub-genres started to appear, there was no need for a label to identify the traditional mystery.  I personally wish another label had been chosen besides "cozy."

BTW, a very hearty welcome to MWF.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2007, 08:13:21 PM by JIM DOHERTY »
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Ingrid

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Re: Cozies and Community
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2007, 05:13:14 PM »

I think any novel should draw the reader in and make him part of the world of the book.  It is very important for readers to identify with protagonists. This is not exclusive property of cozies.

Ingrid
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