If you want to learn how to write cozy mystery fiction for a living, this interview with Elizabeth Spann Craig will be super helpful to you. Elizabeth shares how she got started writing and how she wrote for traditional publishers before she got her rights back and has been happily self-publishing ever since. She has written over 20 books and happily writes books and blogs about her journey on her website www.elizabethspanncraig.com.
This is Episode #028 of Create A Story You Love podcast. You can find the backlist here. In the introduction, I talk about getting prepped for NaNoWriMo which starts in November.
I’ve been working on writing a more detailed outline to my story as well as I’ve been trying to schedule blogposts and podcasts ahead of time.
As you know, I love sharing helpful resources, that I’ve used, in hopes that something might inspire you too. I’ve been reading through Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels, by Gwen Hayes. It’s really helped me create a better outline for my own story. Also I talk about how it’s been so helpful to join an accountability group, that’s part of Monica Leonelle’s Finish Your First Book Group. There’s something about knowing that you are telling someone else where you’re at that seems to be a little more motivating 😉 I’d love to hear about the story you’re writing and if you plan on being part of NaNoWriMo. Please, add your thoughts to the comments below!
Summary of Interview:
Here are some of the highlights from my chat with Elizabeth…
We had fun discovering that we both had a mutual interest in Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew mysteries as well as the T.V. Series, Murder She Wrote when we were teenagers!
- Elizabeth explains the details of a Cozy Mystery: Usually set in a small town; readers don’t see a lot of sex, violence or profanity; the Amateur sleuth and the reader are exposed to the same clues and red herring; Reader has the opportunity to solve the puzzle alongside the sleuth; the focus is on solving the puzzle of the story.
- Character can come from real life people who inspire you or your imagination.
- In one of her books, Elizabeth takes her characters on a roadtrip and they end up on a Cruise Ship. Sounds like a great book!
- Elizabeth shares her Formula for a cozy mystery: 1) Introduce your characters 2)Interaction between suspects & victims 3)Death of Victim 4)Sleuth interviews suspects 5)There a second dead body 6)Sleuth interviews more suspects 7)A moment of danger for the Sleuth 8)Reveal of who the killer is and they are taken to prison.
- It’s important for any genre you write that you are following reader’s expectations for that genre.
- Reader expectations for a cozy mystery: often dialogue heavy stories; it helps the story puzzle if each of the characters lie about something and tell the truth about something; deliver readers a clue and then distract them from it; come up with a surprise ending.
- Elizabeth recommends that writers who are working on a series, to keep notes in a Series Bible. Include details like: setting; specific character traits, eye colour, height; what characters do for a living; what makes characters happy, angry; character wounds from their past, etc.
- Inspiration for writers: when you first start writing, keep the bar set very low. It’s more important to set up a strong of successes in meeting your goals than to rack up a huge word count. Even if all you do is look at your manuscript 5 minutes a day, you’re starting to build up that habit in yourself and grow as a writer. Also remember that each day is a New Day and a fresh start. You’re not behind… just begin from where you are.
Elizabeth encourages writers to strongly consider self-publishing your books. She says when she got her rights back from Trad published books, and self-published those books, it worked out extremely well financially for her.
She is working on new books that are due to be released in 2017 and would love to connect with readers and writers on her blog – www.elizabethspanncraig.com – or you can also find her on Facebook or Twitter.
Do you write Cozy Mystery fiction? What are some of your challenges writing in this genre? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!