The 5 Subgenres in Mystery Fiction Explained

(Happy holidays everyone! I’m currently on break right now, but please enjoy this repost. See you all in 2023! – Love, Victoria aka Lady Jabberwocky)

Hello amateur sleuths,

The mystery genre is like ice cream.

Exciting. Delicious. And they both come in a variety of flavors.

Today, I’m breaking down some subgenres of mystery. Since some of these subcategories overlap with one another, I will try to focus on the 5 most notable subgenres in detective fiction.

Classic

A straight vanilla mystery right here. Everyone loves and respects a good classic done right, right? This has your traditional storyline where the investigator – who can either be a professional or a novice – solves a whodunit. A large chunk of the plot is centered around an inspector gathering clues and interacting with suspects. Depending on the sleuth and the target audience, the level of gore may vary. However, traditional mysteries tend to involve murder. In the end, the culprit is reveal and all loose strings are neatly tied in a bow. Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Nancy Drew are the prime examples of this mystery subgenre.

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Cozy

Looking for violence and sex and foul language? This is not the mystery subgenre for you. A cozy mystery is the kind of story you want to unwind with while wearing fuzzy socks. The tone is much lighter, and can even be considered wholesome and humorous. Book titles are pun-filled and corny. The crime is described in a less gruesome way. Typically, the sleuth is an amateur detective, nosy neighbor, or a knitter with some free time on their hands. Solving a mystery is like a fun hobby or satisfies their idle curiosity. These kinds of mysteries often include a fluffy companion, like a loyal canine or finicky feline. For a cozy mystery, solving the crime is all in good fun.

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Noir

Opposite of a cozy mystery. In noir fiction, like it’s film counterpart, the atmosphere is dark and gritty. The world is a cynical and hopeless place. Shadowy street corners. Femme Fatales a lighting cigarette. Hard-boiled detectives are flawed anti-heroes with ambiguous morals. Those are the common traits of noir. When it comes to what’s right and what’s wrong, the lines are blurry. Noir endings can often be open ended and open to interpretation. Is justice served? Is the detective a hero? All valid questions in noir.

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Police Procedural/Forensic

For readers who enjoy those CSI shows, this subgenre is for you. For this subgenre, the main focus is police investigation. And it’s as accurate to real life as possible. Think unsolved crime documentary. Usually, the main character’s occupation is in law enforcement, in some way. Whether that be a cop or a forensic scientist or a coroner. In this subgenre, a lot of time and detail is devoted to the forensic science side of a case. Autopsy reports, crime scenes and dead bodies are described in almost too vivid detail. Not exactly for the faint of heart. But hey, reading a story like this, you may actually learn something about police procedure in a realistic case.

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Supernatural

Need some spooky Halloween vibes? This mystery subgenre is centered around the paranormal, investigating things that go bump in the night. In a supernatural mystery, the story designed to startle and thrill readers, dipping its toe in fantasy and horror genres. Elements of the unknown, ghosts and mystical are mixed into the narrative. Haunted houses and misty graveyards would make an excellent setting, I’m sure. The supernatural mystery is a puzzle – for both the reader and the detective. Explaining the unexplainable is the main goal of the investigator. When the story concludes, there’s usually a logical explanation for the paranormal disturbances.

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What is your favorite mystery subgenre? And if you are writing/have written a mystery story, what subgenre would you categorize it under? Or what is your favorite mystery subgenre to read? Talk to me in the comments. I love to hear from you guys.

Hope you all are enjoying May of Mystery so far. If you have any ideas for future mystery posts, let me know!

Safe safe and keep writing!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

A Remnant of Earth (Sci-Fi 100 Word Story)

Shoved to his knees, the scavenger kneels before Lady Pellanora of the Vega Galaxy. Sitting on a throne, she wears a gown of silver stardust. Hulking mechanical guards at her sides.

Knife to throat, he pleads. “Your brilliance, apologies for entering your realm without permission. Please, grant my ship safe passage and in exchange, I’ll bestow a priceless artifact.”

“And what, feeble human, could you possibly offer me?” The Lady muses.

He holds a glass vial housing a green sprout in soil sample. “A remnant of Earth.”

She scoffs. “Earth was destroyed.”

In his helmet, he grins. “Earth is resilient.”


Write with Heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Romance Among Thieves (100 Word Love Story)

“Darling, I’d give you the world, If I could.” He kissed her gloved knuckles.

 Her eyes rolled. “Always the charmer.”

The two masked lovers cloaked in darkness. A city in midnight. She cut one perfect circle into the glass ceiling.

“It’s true, I’d give you my heart on a platter…” He crooned as he shimmied down the rope.

She shushed him. “Be quiet or we’ll be caught.”

“And a diamond on your pretty finger.”

On a pedestal, a massive diamond sparkled behind lasers.

He snatched the jewel. Security alarms blared.

Ruby lips smiled. “I love you too, idiot, now hurry!”


Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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A Different Kind of Happiness (100 Word Story)

“I scroll through social media, and they’re all married, in great shape, with nice jobs, nice houses. Some even have kids,” She curls into herself, holding a school reunion invitation. “And then there’s me, single with a minimum wage job and muffin top.”

“Not everyone’s lives are as perfect as they appear,” He assures her. “Do not compare yourself.”

She sighs. “I know but, they all look so happy, and I…” Her fingers graze the golden lamp.

Grinning, the genie leans forward. “What is it you desire?”

“I don’t want all that. I wish for…. A different kind of happiness.”


Remember, mental health matters above all else.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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3 Terrifying Tips on Scaring Your Readers (Repost)

Hello Writer Bugs!

In any kind of fictional story, a little bit of terror can go a long way. But how do you strike fear in the hearts of your readers? Have no fear, I’m here to help! Here are three tips on how to scare your audience senseless.


Setting the Mood

A spooky setting can be a total game changer in a horror story. With this literary element, details are key. Paint a horrifying picture for the audience. No, that does not mean you need copious amounts of blood and guts spilled everywhere. Even the most ordinary places can be transformed into a scary environment. Build an atmosphere that unsettles readers, that only enhances the fear factor of the antagonist. Consider what the weather would be like, or how a room is furnished, or the architecture of a building. Once you provided them with vivid descriptions, let the audience’s imagination handle the rest. Not sure where to start in descriptions? When it doubt, the “it was a dark and stormy night” trick never fails in fiction.

Solid Characters

In horror – or in any genre, really- you can’t skimp on the characters. The audience isn’t going to care about a damsel-in-distress, Mary Sue who happens to tumble into a haunted basement. And if readers don’t care, they won’t keep reading. And they won’t be afraid when that character is put in danger. Simple as that. However, they might care more about a child running around a creepy hotel. Create complex characters and give them real struggles, flaws and life problems that the audience can identify with. The goal is to make readers care and want to protect the main character. To make them feel like they could be standing in that character’s shoes, facing the same horrors. To have them biting their nails until the very end, just to make sure the character survives the ordeal.

Pacing Makes Perfect

Specific phrasing or wording can enhance the scary factor in horror fiction. When you have longer sentences, it slows down the action, thereby torturing readers with the suspense. On the other hand, quick and short sentences can keep readers on their toes and get their hearts racing. Those fast, up-tempo phrasing works best when a character is running away from the monster or is internally spiraling into panic and confusion. If the scene doesn’t feel quite right, try switching up the pacing. This one element can change the entire vibe of a scene.

Last week, I experimented in writing horror. I noticed that using short sentences added to the claustrophobic feeling. I almost made myself panic as I was writing the story. And if it scares the writer, it will most definitely scare the reader.


To my fellow writers out there, how do you go about scaring your audience? Also, with Halloween around the corner, what are you dressing up as for Halloween? Talk to me in the comments.

Stay safe and stay creative.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

The Graveyard Shift (100 Word Spooky Story)

“G’Evening, Miss Lorelei.”

Tipping his flat cap in her direction, he pushes the wheelbarrow along the dirt path. The moon is full and bright.

“G’Evening Mister George, George Junior.” Regarding father and son with a bow of his head, his mud caked boots trudges forward. Thick fog blankets the graveyard.

“G’Evening Miss Ramona.” Next to her, he finds an empty plot and grabs a shovel.

Alone in the cemetery, the gravedigger whistles a tune as he digs. Tree branches full of orange leaves bristle. A woman’s delicate voice carries on the wind.

“Good evening, Jim. How’s life been treating you?”


Based on this week’s prompt of the week!

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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The Secret Behind Writing Meaningful Character Deaths

Hello Writer Bees!

Hope you all are doing well and staying creative.

With spooky season right around the corner, and with that recent episode of critical role, I’ve been thinking about character deaths lately. Morbid, I know. But realistically, not every character makes it to the end of the story alive. So today, let’s talk about the key to writing meaningful death scene.

For the Story

In fiction, death must serve a purpose, whether to the overall plot or to the characters themselves.

A single character’s death could be used as a major catalyst in the events of a story and the lives of other characters. In terms of the narrative, character death can raise the stakes. It’s a wakeup call to both the cast and the audience that lives are at stake. That not every character may survive in the end. By raising the stake in this way, the underlying tension and suspense will grow, and readers will be hanging on the edge of their seats.

Apart from building suspense, a character’s death can also add to the atmosphere and exposition. A death scene can set the mood for the story, in practically any genre. Remember the writing rule, ‘Show, Don’t Tell‘, and save yourself from writing an info-dump. If the fictional world is plagued with war or a virus, then bodies hitting the ground is an effective, and incredibly terrifying, image. Use a character’s death as a tool for creating the mood of a setting.

For the Characters

For other characters specifically, another character’s death can change how they go forward in their lives. Characters should be written like real life people. Death often comes will a strong emotional response.. When someone dies, it can change one’s outlook or view on their world, other people or ever themselves. For better or for worse. It can alter the course of their future actions.

However, be careful using this as a plot device as it can lean towards cliché. Often times, killing one to motivate another can feel like an overused or stale occurrence. Think about it. How many movies involve the main character’s love interest dying and as a result, the hero rises and is motivated to avenge their lover? And unfortunately, because of this, women are sometimes written off as expendable and not as fully developed characters. Big no-no, writer bees.

Final Thoughts

Next time you think about killing your darlings, take a minute and consider this. What purpose does this character’s death serve? How with this impact the story and other characters? Really considering the why can be a game changer in your writing.


How do you go about writing a character’s death scene? What character in fiction crushed you when they died? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky.

Do You Need a Writing Degree to Be a Real Writer? (Repost)

Hello writer bees!

(Summer is over! Since some of you have headed back to school recently, I wanted to repost this. Reignite the conversation. Tell me your thoughts in the comments. – Victoria aka Lady Jabberwocky)

Today, I’m posing a possibly controversial question.

Do you need a degree in writing to be considered a “proper writer”?

To some, getting a college degree makes you a bonafide writer, or a better writer than most. Others feel they can be storytellers without the diploma to back them up. And some young writers have a hard time choosing what they want to study, and if a degree in writing is even worth it.

I want to share my experience. Hopefully, it can give younger writers a bit of insight. Goodness knows I needed some insight when I was just a fledgling. For those of you who don’t know, I graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in English. What do you do with a B.A. in English? How did that experience impact my journey as a writer? I’ll be diving into everything, the good and the bad.

Why I Chose to Pursue an English Degree

Let’s backtrack first. When I was in high school, I discovered my love of writing. I had an amazing teacher who encouraged my artistic aspirations. Without her, I probably wouldn’t be a blogger or an aspiring author right now. As I decided what college major I would pursue, no other subject could compare to English and creative writing.

I had a lot of ideas for a potential novel. Writing stories in various genres really interested me. I loved fantasy and mystery and historical drama and everything in between. Ah, to be young and full of inspiration. Wanting to narrow down my focus and find my niche, I thought going for a English degree would help me find the genre I’d eventually publish in someday. Like “Congrats! Here is your diploma! Also, you are a mystery writer! Now go write a whodunit and be on your merry way.”

Earning my B.A. in English was a wonderful experience. It wasn’t easy. Lots of late nights, lots of reading material, lots of stress. And I don’t regret a single minute.

Writing Workshops

While in college, my fiction writing classes were full-on workshops. Gathering around with fellow writers, discussing each other’s stories. I learned how to constructively critique someone’s work and became more mindful of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. We read each others short stories and offered feedback in a really safe and sensitive environment. Don’t get me wrong, I was so nervous letting others read my work. But once you realize we’re all in the same boat, it’s not so scary. That was my first taste of a greater writing community.

Also, the very first draft of my current WIP sprouted in that class. Sharing that story in particular with my classmates was like the ultimate test run for my work-in-progress novel. Let me know in the comments if you want to hear more about that particular workshop session.

Reading Everything

Remember when I said I was looking down to settle with one genre to write in? It didn’t quite work out as I expected. In college, I read everything. And I mean everything. Like I was reading Beowulf and Arthurian legend in the morning and Hemingway and Christie in the afternoon. Real talk? My narrator was born after reading an Edgar Allen Poe story. If anything, my horizon only expanded. Once I graduated, I was even more undecided about what genre I wanted to publish in. I really gained an appreciation for literature across all genres. By reading various genres and styles and time periods, a sturdy foundation was built under my feet. Maybe it’s strange to say, but I felt like I had a wealth of source material I could refer to and be inspired by. If that makes sense.

Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, is it?

Hard to Find a Job

After I graduated, It was tough finding steady work. I applied for many publications and ended up with a pile of rejection letters. Apparently, a bachelors degree in English isn’t enough to prove you are good at writing. That was a newsflash to me. I wanted to make a living as a writer, and it just wasn’t happening. Frankly, It was a dark time for me. Finally, I fell into freelance work, starting out as an unpaid intern. Around the same time, I started this blog. Then, more freelance opportunities opened up. And today, even though I’m stuck in a cubicle at an office day job, the passion for writing has not ceased. I’m still working on my goal to write a novel, after office hours, of course.

Final Thoughts

The B.A. in English gave me a solid foundation. My brain thinks differently about literature and storytelling because of my time as an English major. It was a valuable, rewarding experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. Well, maybe a finished novel.

Do you need a degree to be a proper writer?

In my opinion? No.

You know that quote from Ratatouille, Anyone can cook? I believe anyone can write. A degree doesn’t make me, or anyone else, a genuine writer. We all have imagination and creativity inside of us. Anyone can write a story and be considered a writer.


Do you think you need a degree to be considered a proper writer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And if you earned your degree in English/Creative writing, how has that experience impacted your journey as a writer? As always, I love to hear from you guys.

Stay safe and keep writing.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Pixies and Paperwork (100 Word Fantasy Story)

You are one cubicle worker in an office full of other cubicle workers. Here, everything is beige and bland. From the monotonous typing of keyboards to the crisp business suits to the hum of the water cooler.

At your desk, you open the metal drawer. On top of a stack of manila folders and forgotten files stands a pixie. Rosy cherub cheeks and pricked ears. Dragonfly wings. Rainbow dust twinkles around.

“D’you want to leave?” The pixie whispers, smiling up at you. “Someplace nicer?”

The phone rings. Computer screens lights up with emails. You nod, almost too quickly.

“Yes please.”


Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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5 Subgenres of Fantasy Fiction Explained

Hello Writer Bees!

One of my favorite genres to write and read is fantasy. And the fantasy stories come in a variety of different flavors. Today, I’m breaking down 5 subgenres of fantasy fiction. Grab your wizard hats and let’s dive in, shall we?

Fairy Tales

In my opinion, fairy tales were the cornerstone of fantasy. Folktales full of pixies and mermaids, trickery and wonder. Characters are fanciful as the world around them, from the lost royal to the walking-talking cat. We see you, Puss in Boots. Keep in mind, the general readers of fairy tales are children. That being said, the overall tone is usually kept light and entertaining. At the end of the tale, there is always a moral lesson to be learned. And they all lived happily ever after.

High Fantasy

Also known as epic fantasy, this subgenre lives up to the name. Dungeons and Dragons players and Lord of the Rings fans know this fantasy subgenre too well. With medieval fantasy vibes galore, there’s the ever-classic battle between good versus evil present in these stories. Often times, the plot centers around one hero, who starts off weak but overtime, grows into a mighty warrior. They’ll embark on their quests and explore the world, maybe meeting other races like elves and ogres. In Epic Fantasy, the cast of characters can get quite extensive, so keep character notes handy when writing.

Urban Fantasy

Forget the sparkly forests and towering castles of fairy tales, this fantasy subgenres takes magical elements and throws them into a modern cityscape. Full of grit and noir vibes, the story always takes place in a major city, with bustling streets. Typically, the main character is connected to both the real world and the magical world. And almost any mythical creature can call the city home. Maybe there’s a shapeshifter riding the subway, or a werewolf in the alleyway. Heck, I’d argue that superheroes fall under this fantasy subgenre too. Truly, the possibilities are endless.

Gothic Fantasy

Sometimes referred to as Dark Fantasy, this subgenre is the mix of supernatural and horror elements. Noted for its gloomy, brooding atmosphere, the setting evokes fear and anxiety in its readers. Building up suspense is crucial to constructing the spooky environment. In Gothic Fantasy, ghosts from the pasts haunt the characters, never giving them a night’s rest. This fantasy subgenre is more focused on supernatural elements, like specters, vampires and Frankenstein’s monster. If you’re looking for a good scare, Gothic Fantasy might be the subgenre for you.

Low Fantasy

Similar to urban fantasy, magical events invade on an otherwise ordinary world. In this fantasy subgenre, the supernatural does not exist or isn’t well known in society. When something magical does occur, it’s accepted as natural in the world, like it could happen any day. Disney films like Mary Poppins fit this bill perfectly. This fantasy subgenre proves you don’t need an epic dragon battle to have a good fantasy story. Sometimes all you need is a little sprinkle of whimsy in everyday life.


Interested in learning more about subgenres in fiction? Check out these posts!

What are some of your favorite and least favorite subgenres of fantasy? Talk to me in the comments.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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