Tag Archives: worldbuilding

Cozy Mysteries: The Usual Suspects

It’s time for another post about cozies! This is one of my favorite genres. They’re light, suspenseful, and fun. You have a cute small town, quirky characters, and all sorts of crimes to solve. But before you can write that cozy, you’ve got to figure out whodunnit first!

If you’re plotting out some villains, here are a few ideas:

  • a spouse
  • a sibling (sibling rivalry at its worst!)
  • a boss or an employee
  • a coworker
  • an ex-lover
  • a former business partner
  • a competitor in business
  • someone who’s been blackmailed and wants revenged
  • a mentor who’s jealous of how well their pupil has done
  • a simple thief
  • someone who will inherit a lot of money after the crime
  • an individual the victim refused to help, even though they had the means
  • a person who was tired of the victim’s poor decisions and how they treated people
  • someone who wanted to teach others a lesson
  • a celebrity who will gain in sales/followers
  • a stalker
  • a former roommate
  • a teacher
  • a hairdress
  • a corporate buyer
  • someone who wanted control over a situation
  • an accountant

As you can see, some of these have more to do with motive than with who they are. I think the two parts of a mystery go hand-in-hand. What would you add to this list? I’m sure I’ll be adding more in the future, so be sure to check back!

This is just a brief list, but hopefully it’s enough to inspire you. If you’re looking for more inspiration, be sure to take a peek at my Writers’ Resources page. Looking for some clues for your mystery? Try this post. Thanks!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under cozy mystery, Fiction, worldbuilding, writers resources

Crime Scene Clues for Cozy Mysteries

I don’t know about you, but I love cozy mysteries. Actually, I’m guessing you must like them at least a little bit if you’re here, because this post is about writing them. As a ghostwriter, I’ve written a ridiculous amount of them. (I do plan to do some other posts about cozies, so stay tuned!) One of the interesting challenges is coming up with various clues that will lead the main character (as well as the reader, of course) to the actual killer. You’ve gotta have a few red herrings in there as well, so that means more clues!

The problem is that most cozy mysteries aren’t about actual detectives or crime scene investigators. We’re talking about small town people with normal jobs and hobbies. Your ‘detective’ might be someone whose specialty is chasing strays at an animal shelter instead of chasing down killers. This means that most of your crime scene clues can’t require a forensic lab to be followed. Sure, you might have a police officer who fills in a detail here and there, but otherwise you need hints that the everyday layperson can follow.

Here are a few to consider:

  • a single earring
  • a receipt
  • part of a label from a prescription bottle
  • a fast food wrapper
  • a key (there are lots of opportunities for where the key might go)
  • a shopping list (is the handwriting important? or the contents?)
  • paint
  • ink
  • a distinctive item of clothing
  • a strand of hair
  • the imprint of a ring, or the bruise left by one
  • a broken shard from a piece of pottery or a vase
  • a puzzle piece that doesn’t match a puzzle
  • dirt or mud from someone’s shoes
  • part of a costume (feathers, glitter, etc)
  • a charm from a charm bracelet
  • something written on a person’s hand
  • a thread from a garment
  • a book left behind on a bench
  • beads from a dress
  • a notepad with the imprint of what was written on the previous sheet (revealed by rubbing a crayon or pencil on a seemingly blank page)
  • a secret drawer in a dresser or des

These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are also plenty of clues that might not be physical at all, like when your character witnesses and argument between two people or one side of a phone call. What clues would you add to this list?

Be sure to check out my Writers’ Resources page for more posts like this. Thanks!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under cozy mystery, worldbuilding, writers resources, Writing Exercises

World Building: Bookstore Names

Creating a believable fictional world is just as important as creating your characters and plot. I personally love to sit down and map out my make-believe town so that my characters can walk through it consistently. Part of this process, though, is creating names for every one of the businesses your character encounters! I don’t think any small town is complete with a bookstore, whether it’s new and vibrant, old and dusty, or somewhere in between.

Image by JayMantri from Pixabay

Here are some bookstore names I’ve come up with during the process. I can’t guarantee you that any of these haven’t been used before, but they’re a lot of fun!

  • The Bookmark
  • Between the Lines
  • Booktopia
  • Flip the Page
  • Volumes of Books
  • Alexandria’s Books (extra points if you get this one)
  • It’s About Tome
  • Gutenberg’s Dream (more extra points on this one)
  • An Open Book
  • By the Book (or Buy the Book!)
  • A Book by its Cover
  • Read the Room
  • Cover to Cover

As you can tell, I like store names that are a little punny. What would you add to the list? I’d love to know!

If you’re looking for more posts like this, be sure to check out my Writers’ Resources page!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under worldbuilding, writers resources