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How to Outline A Cozy Mystery: Workbook

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Do you want to write a cozy mystery but don’t know how to get started?


Use this workbook to learn how to create a framework so that you can begin writing your cozy.


Do you want to know the basic building blocks of a cozy mystery? Do you wonder why cozy readers devour these mysteries voraciously? Are you fuzzy on how the structure of a cozy mystery fits into the classic plot structure? Do you wonder what the “rules” are for a cozy mystery?


Let USA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett show you how she’s planned and written over 25 mysteries in this direct and to-the-point guide without fluff or filler.


Use the How to Outline a Cozy Mystery Workbook—the companion to the How to Outline a Cozy Mystery Course—to work through your cozy outline step-by-step.


In How to Outline a Cozy Mystery Workbook you'll discover:


The many different outlining methods you can use to build your story framework



The conventions (or tropes) cozy readers want and expect
The psychology behind why readers choose cozies
How a cozy mystery fits into classic plot structure
Tips on how to hide clues and red herrings
And much, much more!

Sara's firsthand knowledge of cozy mystery structure and what cozy readers want will help you shape your idea into a novel. Her tips and workbook will save you time and give you confidence as you approach the blank page.


Buy Sara Rosett's workbook today and you'll get an easy to understand plan for outlining your mystery in a helpful question and answer format to guide you through the process.

69 pages, Kindle Edition

Published January 16, 2020

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About the author

Sara Rosett

50 books1,212 followers
USA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett writes lighthearted mysteries for readers who enjoy atmospheric settings, fun characters, and puzzling whodunits.

She is the author of the High Society Lady Detective historical mystery series as well as three contemporary cozy series, the Murder on Location series, the On the Run series, and the Ellie Avery series. Sara also teaches an online course, How to Outline A Cozy Mystery.

Publishers Weekly called Sara's books, “satisfying,” “well-executed,” and “sparkling.” Sara loves to get new stamps in her passport and considers dark chocolate a daily requirement. Find out more at SaraRosett.com.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews
Profile Image for Amanda Tero.
Author 24 books522 followers
October 10, 2022
I read this workbook without doing the course. Since I already know a good bit about writing, I think the workbook is quite fine as a stand-alone. The questions seem extremely helpful and it gives a general overview of the important elements of writing a cozy.
Profile Image for Heather Myers.
Author 102 books690 followers
November 8, 2020
Good book

I know this is a companion to a course and I thought it had good basic information. The questions at the end were especially helpful. I just thought it was a tad overpriced for what you received but it was still good!
Profile Image for Sara.
62 reviews2 followers
January 8, 2018
I was pleasantly surprised by this little book. I've read a lot of writing how-to books (and a lot of them mystery-based), so it sometimes feels like I've heard all there is to say about the matter. But this brought up some questions that I hadn't really thought about and would like to consider when plotting my mysteries. Although I wouldn't write right in the blank spaces provided in the book (I'd like to use it more than once!), I could see starting a new document or opening a new notebook and working on these questions to get me started on a new mystery.
Profile Image for Mary.
431 reviews2 followers
November 24, 2017
A neat, helpful little workbook. I liked the way it set up questions to consider and brought up other aspects (such as longevity), too.
Profile Image for Constance Burris.
Author 13 books156 followers
January 22, 2021
Good for newbies

This was a good book if you're a newbie, but if you've written a few books already, this is more of a mystery refresher.
Profile Image for Jared Gulian.
Author 5 books46 followers
May 8, 2021
Although this is a workbook for a course I didn't take, I still found it useful. I'm not writing a cozy mystery, but I'm interested in borrowing from them for other genres. Some time ago I realized that what makes a bestseller is not the story that is TOLD but rather the story that is WITHHELD. So I thought this book would help me see how others are withholding elements in order to draw the reader forward. It did help me with just that, and I'd recommend it for anyone interested in story theory and plot structure.

There are a variety of good tidbits in this book. An interesting part was the description of how mysteries are typically different than thrillers. (Mysteries vs Thrillers... Mind game vs Thrill ride, Killer unknown vs Antagonist often known, Closed setting vs Wide setting, Puzzle vs Action.) As the title promises, there's also a simple breakdown of the classic cozy mystery plot structure, and it seems to me this could easily be leveraged for other suspenseful books.

But the best bit for me was the brief part where Rosett wrote about visible vs invisible storylines. By her definition, examples of visible storyline elements are: discovery of the body, finding suspects, pursuing clues, etc. Examples of invisible storyline elements include the actual murder itself, the way the murderer hides their tracks, etc. These 'invisible storyline' elements are the things that are WITHHELD and that slowly get revealed in the course of the book. Rosett advises that once you have your invisible storyline, you "can build the visible storyline on top of it." This is genius.

It seems to me the reason why the end of the TV show 'Lost' was so unsatisfying for so many people was that the writers hadn't figured out their invisible storyline before they started writing. They'd written themselves into knots in the visible storyline because they had no foundation of the invisible storyline.

So, the first thing we should do when we write a suspenseful story is to figure out what we're NOT going to tell. Once we figure that out, we can start figuring out what we ARE going to tell, and how we are going to release the invisible storyline slowly. Start with the invisible storyline.

Maybe I'll actually take the course...
Profile Image for Ronnie Roberts.
Author 17 books15 followers
March 23, 2021
New Genre to me—explained beautifully.

I write post apoc, time travel science fiction and wholesome romance—and yes, I’ve always wanted to write cozies. After reading this clear, concise book, I’m ready to dive in. Thanks, Sara for sharing what you do so well with a total cozy noob!
Profile Image for Lori Puma.
406 reviews6 followers
April 18, 2020
Excellent overview of genre expectations

If you think you might be writing a cozy mystery, you should read this book. It does a great job of identifying the things that cozy readers expect authors to deliver and to avoid.
Profile Image for Jennifer Skinnell.
Author 13 books5 followers
January 13, 2021
As a romance author who is branching out into the world of cozy mystery writing, this book is quite helpful. I love that there are questions I need to answer at the end of each chapter that will help me when organizing my thoughts for my own cozy mystery.
Profile Image for Megan Kelly.
Author 31 books37 followers
September 28, 2022
Very good guide to formulating a cozy. Clear explanations on what the parts of a cozy are and why they're important (spoiler: the answer is almost always Reader expectations). Questions to guide the first time cozy author will the help the writer build the story foundation.
Profile Image for Oliver Ho.
Author 33 books11 followers
June 26, 2020
Very quick read—useful, practical information.
Profile Image for Rohn Strong.
Author 13 books19 followers
October 14, 2020
I don't know. I just. I wish there was more and this was more of an 'outline' rather than a workbook that guides you through a brainstorm? Maybe I just expected something different.
Profile Image for LaMonique Mac.
Author 10 books3 followers
April 16, 2021
This book was amazing

No fluff. Right to the point! I learned so much about writing cozy mysteries in a short read. I’ve highlighted almost the entire book.
Profile Image for Kate.
23 reviews1 follower
June 15, 2021
Good ideas

I am considering writing a cozy, a which is a genre I have never tried. This book is filled with ideas that I can use to help me with planning and outlining.
Profile Image for Sally Kilpatrick.
Author 15 books270 followers
Read
August 2, 2021
Time will tell as to how effective this book was, but I think it was helpful.
Profile Image for E.N. Chaffin.
Author 7 books9 followers
January 1, 2022
Another winner from Sara R. She's got your back if you're wanting to write a cozy, giving you all the basics and then some. She helps you think beyond what other sources will do.
Profile Image for Kristi.
202 reviews
October 29, 2017
I would recommend this book to authors who are not familiar with the cozy genre. It is a good introduction to the basic structure of a cozy mystery.

Personally, I was a little disappointed with this book. I knew that it was a workbook, and I knew that it was only 106 pages. However, there was a lot of white space in the book. I expected more information and more examples. Nevertheless, it is a good introduction for those unfamiliar with cozy mysteries.
Profile Image for Kathy Burge.
10 reviews
April 10, 2020
Basic information but well organized. The workbook is probably best suited for new writers. It offers guidance on cozy mystery genre expectations and simple story structure, with plenty of space to jot down notes for your own novel.
Profile Image for Randi Sampson.
705 reviews33 followers
February 13, 2021
This was a fantastic resource that really makes the idea of writing a mystery seem a little less intimidating. I appreciated the questions to help organize thoughts and plans. I will be referencing this many times I am certain!
Profile Image for Micha Goebig.
Author 1 book6 followers
November 1, 2017
A very helpful little workbook with good lists of questions for planning a cozy. I think I’ll check out the online course because I like this approach.
Profile Image for Amy.
99 reviews
February 16, 2019
I was on the fence about buying this book because I know sometimes they can be either too vague or too simplistic. However, this book was well worth it for me.
Profile Image for Cassie Shiels.
Author 13 books28 followers
October 9, 2020
I found this book really helpful. I enjoyed how easy it was to understand and follow along. It made it feel like writing a cosy would be something I could do with the tips in this book.
Profile Image for Werner.
43 reviews4 followers
February 22, 2021
A short and concise book on outlining. One of the better ones out there.
Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews

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