TTT: How to Title Your Cozy Mystery. Ten Proven Methods.

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Welcome back to our weekly Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

April 24: Frequently Used Words In [Insert Genre/Age Group] Titles

So of course I have to go with the “Mystery Genre” this week. I’m sure that is not a surprise to anyone. 🙂

I actually thought this list would be fairly easy, but it turns out it is difficult to find frequently used words across various authors in the very large mystery genre. When I’m looking at one author — especially those who write cozy mysteries — it’s pretty easy. Gretchen Archer’s Davis Way series always has “Double” in the title; Susan M. Boyer’s Liz Talbot series always uses “Lowcountry.” Wendy Tyson’s Greenhouse Mystery titles involve an organic farming theme. M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth always begins with “Death of a [insert victim here]”.

Some cozies have really cute puns, many of which are themed to the series. Like Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lover’s series, with titles like Due or Die or Better Late than Never. Or Jeff Shelby’s PI Noah Braddock series whose titles include Killer Swell and Fast Break. Or Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse MysteriesOn What GroundsBrew to a Kill; Espresso Shot. Now that I’m looking into this, I would bet this punny-yet-themed method of titling is the most popular amongst cozy authors.

Sometimes the author incorporates the main character’s name, like Laura DiSilverio did with the Charlie Swift series, including Swift Justice and Swift Run. Or an author might make use of alliteration, as Cathy Ace does in her WISE Enquiries Agency SeriesThe Case of the Dotty Dowager and The Case of the Curious Cook are good examples.

Some are fun takes on movies — I’m looking at you Spencer Quinn, writer of the fantastically fun Chet and Bernie series, where Chet the dog is our narrator. These titles include To Fetch a ThiefA Fistful of Collars, and Scents and Sensibility among other gems.

Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series incorporates a line of a poem featured at the beginning of each book, which make for very interesting titles — The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and A Red Herring without Mustard are fine examples.

Sue Grafton used the alphabet; Janet Evanovich includes numbers. An then there’s Martha Grimes, with one of my favorite cozy title methods — she always uses the name of a pub that appears in the story as the title in her Inspector Richard Jury series, like The Man With a Load of Mischief.

Actually, now that I’m typing this, this is turning into a really good Top Ten idea.

How to Title Your Cozy Mystery: Ten Proven Methods.

  1. Key Word Across Series
  2. Themed to the Series
  3. Punny, Often with Series Theme
  4. Letter or Number progression
  5. Standard Beginning, then Fill in the Blank
  6. Pub Name
  7. Incorporate the Main Character’s Name
  8. Fun takes on Movies
  9. Line of Poetry
  10. Alliteration

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Well, that turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected! I love cozy mystery titles, the authors are so creative with them! Do you have a favorite cozy mystery title? What common words do you find across titles in other genres? Sound off below, and link up to your own TTT if you’ve got one!

3 thoughts on “TTT: How to Title Your Cozy Mystery. Ten Proven Methods.

  1. I love the cozy titles that are all puns. 🙂 You’ve got some good examples! I love scents & Sensibility and a Fistful of Collars. And it’s fun to see how creative the can get with the themes…

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