1. RightWrite

    RightWrite Active Member

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    Action in cozy mysteries?

    Discussion in 'Crime, Thriller & Action' started by RightWrite, Mar 20, 2019.

    I'm currently working on a cozy mystery that features an older detective in his 50's and I'm concerned about having to throw my detective in break neck action. For one thing, he's old, and, for another, he prefers non violent techniques like interviewing suspects rather than ending up in a fight with one of these suspects in a dark, gloomy alley reeking of rotting fish heads.

    Now-a-days, it seems like the general consensus for mystery stories (cozy mysteries included) is to include forward driving action to keep the reader gripped on the story. Contemporary readers demand more than just following the detective as he or she interviews suspects. They want action. Here is a post from Writer's Digest that explains this. Specifically, it is noted that "While detection is still at the heart of the story, that plot must move along with more driving action than the genre used to demand. Today’s readers aren’t content to simply follow along while a sleuth interviews suspects in hopes of solving a crime; they want to feel compelled to keep turning pages long after bedtime."

    https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/4-things-you-should-know-about-writing-a-cozy-mystery-novel

    First, I don't understand what type of action they're referring to. Do they mean break neck action often depicted in thrillers or the simple thrill of having the detective break into a heavily secured office building in the dead of night while almost being detected by the security guard?

    Second, is it really necessary to incorporate action as expected by readers (if this is really the case)?

    Thanks for your input in advance.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  2. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Seeking the bigger self Contributor Contest Winner 2022 Contest Winner 2024 Contest Winner 2023

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    Well, for starters, 50 ain't all that old, so don't be ruling out some physical action. But also, and more seriously, you can move action along with situations rather than fistfights, there are threats and implied threats, blackmailing, dark alleys that don't end up in fights (though the reader won't know it until later). I think the point is that things have to happen, people have to talk and lie and so on, it can't just be interviews and pondering, though there can be some pretty contentious interviews. There are hostile judges and cops, and so on. And mysterious hints and so on -- for some reason PD James comes to mind, I don't think there are many confrontations in there that involve the detective, mostly things that happen to other people.



    I'm guessing that good writing can keep the reader guessing what will come next, and who-dunnit, and so on. For that matter, why not keep your detective in good shape so that he can have the occasional physical encounter, perhaps with surprising results for his opponent.
     
  3. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I dunno, I agree that styles have changed since Agatha Christie, but I personally prefer less fisticuffs in my parlour mysteries. They definitely need moments of tension, but I feel like gunfights and parkour would make it a different genre and thought that the overall theme of these types of mysteries was logic and reason being shown to have the upper hand over brawn and mayhem. Though even Sherlock engaged in the occasional boxing match, so who am I to say.
     
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  4. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I've read Raymond Chandler a local author who wrote cozy style detective books.
    And another author I met when he lived here was Joel Canfield both had a similar way of keeping you in the story, but for me I would only read the short stories as I too am spoiled by having something more than an info dump to keep me turning pages.
     
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  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I find myself thinking "urgency" more than literal physical action. For example, I don't think that Dorothy Sayers' Strong Poison had a lot of action, but there was a lot of urgency, because the timeline was counting down to Harriet Vane likely being convicted and hanged. I realize that's an example of an old, rather than a new, novel, but it's an example of urgency without violence.
     
  6. RightWrite

    RightWrite Active Member

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    Thanks for your input guys.

    Threats... seems reasonable to me :) Thanks. I'll think about making my detective younger too.

    I got it. So incorporate urgency or tension from suspense and not necessarily physical action. Thanks.

    I definitely agree with this. Cozy mysteries should uphold the tradition of presenting a clever puzzle which the reader must solve with pure logic and attention to details. Indeed, this is the pleasure derived by readers every time they read cozy mysteries. But I, like you, wouldn't mind sprinkling episodes of tension, suspense, or a sense of urgency sparsely in the cozy mystery novel in order to keep the reader turning the pages.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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  7. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    1. Conflicts. In several topics and several levels.

    Economic, love, social, historical, political, environmental, logistic, forces of nature....

    You weave a lot of subplots and sideplots + 1-3 side themes to your story and that is it.

    It's a bit like instead of having one path you have a labyrinth and a map of some other labyrinth. And sub and side mysteries.

    And all these and something else as cliffhangers.

    And - like Graham said - threats and and implied threads.

    2. You make your decisions. Agents, publishers and potential readers make their decisions.
     

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