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    Mysterious Genres

    Mystery writing has certain classifications, just like romance. You don't have to classify your mystery before you write it but it's a good idea to know where it fits in before you try to market it! Readers and editors know their stuff!

    Mystery sub-genres aren't as restrictive as their romantic sisters. Mystery writing, overall, is more relaxed and more likely to blur lines. Remember that these guidelines reflect how the mystery is solved. Characterization is another story!

    Sub-genres of mystery include:

    Cozy - A mystery with a sleuth who isn't a professional. It's anybody's guess who and what the sleuth can be. Recent cozy mysteries include an herbalist, a Dark Ages monk, a veterinarian, and a gardener. The possibilities are endless! These books probably account for most of the mystery market. People like to imagine themselves solving the mystery!

    Hard Boiled - This mystery is solved by a professional. This can be a private detective, an ex-cop, or an ex-Federal agent. The story is personalized to the detective. He/she has his/her own way of getting things done. He/She usually doesn't work by the book. This form has evolved in recent years past the cigarette smoking, tough guy with all the answers. It isn't quite as popular as it was in Sam Spade's heyday but it's still around.

    Police Procedural - The crime is solved by a law enforcement official who finds the answers by using accepted police methods. These stories tend to be very believable and true to life. It's important to have some knowledge of how the police work. An editor who works with police procedurals will know right away if you're a hack or you know what you're talking about!

    Historical - These mysteries have become very popular. The crime can be set in any time period and solved by any of the three methods listed above. Historical accuracy is very important. Clothing, weapons, and characters must be firmly rooted in their time frame. Research is vital to this one, too.

    Mysteries are becoming more popular every day. Imaginative characters and unusual circumstances have brought more readers to the mystery fold. One recent mystery features a vampire in 1920's Chicago who solves crimes and sells bootleg gin at a speakeasy. Anything is possible! Try one out for yourself!

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    Next time: Series Writing

    Copyright © 2001 Joyce Lavene

    Joyce Lavene , who writes with her husband/partner Jim, is the author of 40 novels including an award winning mystery series and a romance nominated for the Frankfurt EBook Award for 2000. She's also been published in sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. When she isn't writing, Joyce paints in watercolors and is a practicing herbalist. She and her husband are graphic artists who have created many book covers and professional photographers. They are currently working on five separate series of novels, each for a different publishing house! Joyce is active with RWA and The Mystery Writers of America. She lives and works in North Carolina, USA, with her three children and two grandchildren. She and her husband welcome their readers to their homepage:

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

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