It’s a Mystery…Isn’t It?

When Rich and I go to our cottage, I love to unfold the card table and dump out a jigsaw puzzle on it.  I know, however, that little else will be
accomplished while we’re there as the puzzle will be my obsession. I love puzzles—any
kind: jigsaw, crossword, Sudoku, riddles. That’s why I love mysteries; they are
puzzles where clues are revealed one by one, red herrings inserted just for
fun. Piecing all things together and coming to a solution satisfies me as much
as crossing everything off my “to do” list.

That’s why I’ve been stumped. My WIP, The Cavanaugh House, is a mystery, or so
I have been saying.  Is it a cozy mystery,
or a romantic suspense? I keep going back and forth trying to decide. Reading mysteries
to determine what genre  The Cavanaugh House fits has been most
distressing because it doesn’t fit any. 
Without a dead body in the first chapter, how can it be a cozy
mystery?  Without the focus centering on
a love relationship, how can it be romantic suspense? There is a body, there is

The Cavanaugh House

romance, but… Frustration has been fomenting inside me as I try to insert this
puzzle piece where it doesn’t fit.

Perhaps my WIP does not have a neat, rectangular
frame like most jigsaw puzzles. Perhaps it is irregularly configured like that amoeba-shaped
puzzle I worked on at my brother-in-law’s cottage. Challenging, yes, but oh, so
satisfying upon completion! Perhaps my WIP does not fit neatly into a specific
genre. This concept is both frightening and freeing. Recently I did a puzzle
with my daughter and one of us placed a piece that seemed to fit in both shape
and pattern, but when time came to add the last piece, it didn’t fit.  We discovered the misplaced piece—the other’s
twin almost—corrected the mistake and completed the puzzle with the celebratory
tradition of running of our hands over the final product. We sighed in contentment.

Right now I feel like I haven’t yet discovered the
misplaced piece in my WIP puzzle.  Once I
stop trying to fit this book into a convenient genre and just get on with
writing it, the closer I’ll be to satisfaction. As of today I am writing a genre-less
book.  I know the theme, I know the plot,
I kind of know the ending, and I can’t wait to get back to it.  How will it look at completion? It’s a

2 thoughts on “It’s a Mystery…Isn’t It?

  1. I don't think the murder has to happen in the first chapter. I've read many cozies where it doesn't. As long as it doesn't have gruesome details, no animals are harmed and it takes place in a small area (village/house) it would be considered a cozy. You can still have a little romance in there as long as it isn't driving the mystery.

  2. Ann, thank you for your comment. That's good to know because sometimes I get caught up in the conventions of a genre and it takes the wind out of my sails. If this is the case, The Cavanaugh House would fit cozy mystery very well…except for some mice who are the only dead bodies in the first chapter LOL. Thanks for stopping by!

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