Five top tips for writing cosy crime from the author Rachel Ward

Five Top Tips for Writing Cosy Crime

1.       Love your Characters – If your characters feel like friends who you really want to spend time with, then not only does it make writing a joy, but it’s likely that your readers will like them too.

2.       Eavesdrop – No shame in listening to other people’s conversations if it’s research, right? Sometimes, for example on a train where people are being annoyingly loud, I transcribe what they are saying word for word. It’s a useful exercise in understanding how people actually speak. Believable dialogue is one of the keys to creating compelling characters.

3.       Cosy Crime is Still Crime! – However mild and comforting, cosy crime is essentially crime, and so the crime and investigation plot needs to be the central thread running through the story. With each chapter, ask yourself, ‘Has this moved the crime plot forward?’ If not, it’s got to go.

4.       How Cosy is Cosy? I don’t think there are hard and fast rules on this. I did have stalking and murder in The Cost of Living, but the book is not gratuitously violent. The murder is ‘off camera.’ It’s okay for the reader to be worried about the main characters, but not so worried that they have nightmares.

5.       All’s Well that Ends Well – All crime books need some sort of resolution. Even if the criminal ‘gets away with it’ the reader at least needs to know whodunit. In cosy crime, this sense of resolution needs to come through strongly. I had to work on this with The Cost of Living and balance this need with the desire to set up longer-running threads with a potential for a series. At the end of the day, for me cosy crime is feel good reading.

Rachel’s book, The Cost of Living is just published and available here.

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