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.

Nancy Drew GIFs | Tenor

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.

Old lady knitting gif 1 » GIF Images Download

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.

She Devoured Men The Way She Devoured Cigarettes | Movie stars, Bogart and  bacall, Humphrey bogart

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.

Halloween GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

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

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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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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The Basil Sprites (100 Word Fantasy Story)(Repost)

Hello Writer Bees! Sorry for the late post this week. Work has been hectic! But I didn’t want to leave you empty handed. Since I’m in a fantasy genre mood lately, I’m reposting this short fairytale. Now that I think of it, this may have been the first 100-word story I’ve ever written. From two years ago! Hope you all enjoy. Write with heart! – Love, Victoria aka Lady Jabberwocky.


Hidden under basil leaves, they sit, aglow. With their firefly kisses and rice paper wings, they wait for the first sprig of spring to sprout. Wandering travelers fondly call them diminutive deities. In unwavering tradition, farmers tie bells or chimes to branches, to win favor with these guardians of the field.

Threads of golden luck tucked in their clutches, the little spirits bless the harvest of many. Be weary, dear friends. Do not ravage the earth nor mistreat nature itself. Common basil sprites will become vengeful imps, inviting weeds and death onto your land. Best to keep the bells ringing.


Stay safe and keep writing.

— Lady Jabberwocky

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The Golden Rule of Fiction Writing: Show, Don’t Tell

Hello Writer Bees,

This week, we’re talking about the fundamental golden rule of fiction writing. A technique most writers know as Show, don’t tell. But what is show, don’t tell? How do you use this writing technique? Will it help take your stories to the next level? Let’s explore that, shall we?

What is Show Don’t Tell?

In simple terms, Show Don’t Tell is a writing technique where the writer leaves behind lengthy expositions and explanations. Instead, the plot, it’s tone and characterization are all conveyed through actions, thoughts, and feelings. Showing the audience instead of telling them point blank. At its heart, Show, Don’t Tell is about how readers experience a story. How they learn information and how they draw their own conclusions.

And many famous authors have used this technique in their creative works too. There’s this quote by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov that is often associated with the Show Don’t Tell technique. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Also, Ernest Hemingway shared similar views on storytelling in his notable iceberg theory.

Tips on Using the Show Don’t Tell Rule

  • Set up the Setting: When describing the setting, play with the reader’s senses. Remember, it’s not just about the visuals. Think about how sight, smell, sound, touch and taste tie into a scene. What noises can be heard from the background? What does the texture of a blanket feel like? What are the flavors of a home-cooked meal? No need to go overboard with details but give the audience enough to feel immersed in the world.
  • Digging the Dialogue: How characters communicate with one another can be a telling sign of their relationship. Think about it, you’d speak to a family member differently than a coworker, right? Plus, dialogue is an excellent tool for showing a character’s nature and personality. Someone with an excitable personality is going to have more lively conversation while a shy person may mumble or stutter a bit.
  • Understanding Emotions: When in doubt, pull that flowery language out of your writer sleeves. Every writer has that in their arsenal. Metaphors, similes, and personification can help express emotions and moods in any story. Like “the chill of fear tumbling down your spine“. That sort of wordy goodness. Keep in mind, this poetic style of writing may not suit your specific narrator. For example, my WIP’s narrator, Oscar Fitzgerald, is fast talking and not exactly a poetic soul.

Examples of Show Don’t Tell.

TELLINGSHOWING
She was tired.Dragging her feet, she yawned and stretched out her arms.
The room was filthy.Dirty laundry strewn across the floor. Stains on the paint chipped walls. A rotten smell in the air.
He was a shy guy.Staring at his shoes, his stood on the sidelines of the party. With a soft voice, a blush painted his face as he tried to start a conversation.

Final Thoughts

Does each sentence you write need to follow this rule? Probably not. Exposition can come in handy, if used correctly. Find the balance between showing enough and telling enough. Will the Show Don’t Tell technique improve the quality of your stories? In my opinion? Yeah. By showing rather than telling, the whole story gains a new level of depth and complexity, and it allows readers to fully engage with the plot, characters and overall tone.


What are your thoughts on Show Don’t Tell ? Do you apply this technique to your writing? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you.

Have a question about creative writing or blog writing? Let me know! It may be answered in a post in the near future.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Celebrating 500 Blog Posts!

Hello Writer Bees!

I’m back from vacation! My partner and I had such a fun trip. We left feeling relaxed, recharged and genuinely happy. And we mostly drank beer and ate fried food the entire weekend. So good times all around.

Something exciting happened since my last entry. The Lady Jabberwocky blog reached 500 posts!

That’s mindboggling to me. When I first started this blog, I wasn’t sure if I could consistently create content and handle the responsibility of a platform. I wasn’t even sure if anyone cared what I had to say. Now look, all this hard work paid off and has amounted to 500 posts. And I’m ready for 500 more.

A lesson for all the new bloggers, don’t give up. At first, It may seem like a daunting task, constantly coming up with ideas for your audience. If making content and blogging is what you love, keep going. Your readers will find you. For those who are considering blogging, or are just starting out, check out some of my helpful posts below.

Also, I believe my blog anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. It’ll be five years since I started blogging. How should we celebrate my blogaversary? Leave ideas in the comments.

Thanks for sticking around on my writing journey. You guys are the reason I write.


Take care of yourselves and each other.

Write with heart.

Love,

Victoria (aka Lady Jabberwocky)

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Born a Bloodhound (Detective Mystery Flash Fiction)

Hello Super Sleuths,

This work on fiction is based on last week’s post, the 5 archetypes of fictional detectives. Enjoy!


In every lifetime, I’d been born a bloodhound.

The city was a graveyard, grey and cold and deadly silent. It was near midnight. On a lonely street corner by the museum, I stood there in the pouring rain. Fedora and trench coat drenched. Smoke rose from the sewer grate.

She stood beside me, a viper in heels. Eyelashes sharp like butcher knives.

“Finn, darling,” Her hands slip inside my coat, warm as a shot of ice cold whiskey. She whispered into my ear. “Let’s forget about this little museum jewel heist. The robbers are probably long gone by now,” The minx kissed me, full and feverish. Lips were red like a stop sign. “Couldn’t we just run off together instead? It’d be so easy.” Easy, she says. Easy like a bullet to the head.

I lit a cigarette and eyed the moon. “A dame like you is going to be in a world of trouble someday.” She snickered, her fingers inched towards the gun holstered on my hip. I snatched her wrist. “Quit playing games and fess up already. I know about your little scheme. Now, you want to tell me where that million-dollar diamond is? Or do I have to search you myself?”

Eyebrow raised, she offered a wide wolfish grin, full of teeth and poison. “Please do, inspector.”
———————————————————————————————————–

Every incarnation, there is a trail I’m bound to follow.

That sunny summer morning on Cherry Blossom Lane, I sat cozy in my armchair. On the coffee table, there’s a tray of tea and oatmeal cookies. The rain would arrive later, my bones could sense it. 

“Miss Finnegan, are you feeling alright?” The aid, Gloria, handed me a porcelain teacup embellished with golden roses. Accepting the cup, I nodded with a smile. Looking out the window once more, I watched the new neighbors shuffle cardboard boxes. Lady Whiskerdown, my faithful companion, leapt into my lap.

“Dear? Did you hear about Mister Massey next door?” I asked.

She hummed. “They said it was a robbery gone wrong, yes? Poor thing.”

“His son moved in so quickly after his father’s death, don’t you think?” I pondered. As soon as the yellow police tape was removed, the son was quick to move into the lovely estate. How odd. Lady Whiskerdown thought it odd too.

“Miss Finnegan, you are being nosey again,”  The nurse teased, wagging her finger. As Gloria left the room to fetch my afternoon pills, I gripped my walker, hoisting myself up. “Where are you off to now?”

I may be retired, but an old dog like me can sense trouble when it’s around. Like the rain, my bones could sense it. I gave her a sweet, harmless smile. “Only saying hello to the new neighbors. Where’s the harm in that?”


Every breath dedicated to unraveling the most tangled of life’s mysteries.

After hours, school gave me the heebie-jeebies. Once bustling with classmates, the hallways were eerily empty. Flashlights in hand, my pals and I the snuck around. With the janitor’s permission, of course. He wasn’t thrilled about the recent hauntings and kidnappings either. Our sneakers squeaked against the linoleum tiles. A heavy mini backpack strapped to my back, full of everything a good detective needs to catch a ghost. Fishing net included. Scrunchie on my wrist, in case of emergency.

We found locker #66G. I pried open the metal locker with a screwdriver, its contents spilling out on the floor. Let’s see. A stack of overdue homework. A half-eaten cheeseburger. A bag of glow-in-the-dark powder. I gulped. “Guys,” I turned to my gang of cohorts: The mathlete with thick rimmed glasses, the blonde vixen in a cheerleader uniform, the skater with the tie dye shirt, the dog. “I think I found something.”

Above us, the lights flickered. A strained, moaning sound rang through the halls. Suddenly, a specter in white rags with a phantom mask appeared, floating and glowing a ghoulish green. Rattling chains looped around it’s arms.

“It-it-it’s the Grahamsville G-G-Ghost!”

“Yikes!”

“Finley, run!” My friend called out to me. The Grahamsville Ghost hovered towards us.  

Real ghost or not, I wasn’t looking to become the next missing victim. New plan: Run!


I tried experimenting with different tones here, different subgenres of mystery fiction. Sometimes, It’s good to write outside your comfort zone. In the first part, I was aiming for noir vibes, second part was more a cozy mystery and third part was based on Saturday morning cartoons. Let me know what you guys think in the comments. I’m open to feedback.

Happy sleuthing!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Camp NaNoWriMo – Week Four Update & 1,300 Followers!

Hello Writer Bees!

This was my last week at Camp NaNoWriMo. Here’s how it went.

This was my first time participating in the event and I’m honestly happy I tried it out. Sometimes, we need a challenge like NaNoWriMo to push us to our end goal. I’m definitely a lot closer to that holy grail of a final draft than I was on April 1st. Feeling like I made good progress on my WIP. Camp NaNo helped me stay focused and motivated to work on my story a little everyday. With some more editing, It’ll be ready to read through the draft in its entirety.

Also, my devious plans for May of Mystery are finished. I’m super excited. Already dusting off my detective hat. For those new to the blog, May of Mystery is an entire month dedicated to mystery fiction. All prompts and posts will be mystery themed. Now that a posting schedule is in place for May, I’m all set to talk about all things mystery. Hope you all stick around and enjoy. And happy sleuthing!

If you’re feeling stuck, or want to write something new, try participating in a NaNoWriMo event. It’s a great way to get motivated and meet other talented writers. I highly recommend joining in. More the merrier. I had a great time at camp, even if I was in the editing trenches the whole time. Editing can be a difficult process. But this fun little event helped me trudge through.

My head is spinning from the seemingly endless rewrites and edits. I’m looking forward to taking it easy this weekend with my boyfriend. Play some DnD, watch some Sailor Moon, and eat copious amounts of takeout. A writer’s job isn’t always sunshine and roses. Make sure you take a break when needed, to recharge those beautiful creative juices.

On a side note, something else happened this month. This blog reached 1,300 followers. What!? That’s amazing! Thank you all so much for the love and support and positive writing vibes. You guys keep me writing and keep this blog going.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.


How are your creative endeavors going? What progress have you made lately? Are you looking forward to May Of Mystery? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you.  

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Camp NaNoWriMo – Week Three Update

Hello Writer Bees!

Hope you all are staying safe and staying creative.

Thank you all for the lovely, supportive comments the past few weeks. I really do have the best readers out there. You guys made me feel so much better about my “same name” problem from last week. Maybe I’ll toss my worries away about naming characters and go with my writer gut. Thank you again for all the kind words and positive thoughts.

Life’s been busy this week. All good things, nothing bad. Didn’t have much free time but made do with the time I did have. Only able to get a little editing and writing done during my lunch breaks. Writing wise, I’m filling in tiny gaps and smoothing out transitions. Editing wise, I’m beginning to break down the story into even chapters. Didn’t realize until now that what I considered as chapter had vastly different word counts. Some were too short, some were too long. I’m working on find the goldilocks of things, so each chapter is around the same word count.

I’m still aiming to have a read through of a final draft by the end of Camp NaNoWriMo. I doubt it, but cross your fingers for me anyway. Right now, I’m stuck in a cycle of perpetual editing and writing to no end. Hard to see the end of the tunnel.

Question for the published writers and final drafters out there. How did you go about your final draft before publishing? Was it a lot of tweaking and editing before the plot just grows wings and flies out the nest? How did you know when your story was complete? I’m curious to hear what you have to say.

Aside from editing, my other goal for Camp NaNoWriMo was to plan May of Mystery. All the mystery prompts are scheduled ahead of time. Check that off my to-do list. Every month, I try to post one short story or flash fiction on this blog. Since May is detective themed, I’m playing around with a detective inspired story idea. Already starting the bare bones first draft. Hope you guys like it. If you have any ideas for mystery themed posts, or questions on detective fiction, let me know in the comments.

That’s been my third week at Camp NaNo. Working on both my WIP and on new content. Really looking forward to how my creative endeavors turn out.


How are your creative projects going? How is your Camp NaNoWriMo adventure?  

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Camp NaNoWriMo – Week Two Update

Hello Writer Bees!

Whose dish is on the chopping block? Apparently, my mystery WIP.

This week has been a massacre. Spent most of the week trimming unwanted tidbits from my story. Chunks of paragraphs are being considered for removal. When I’m editing, I underline sentences to mark that they will either be moved or cut altogether. Looks much better than a scary red pen scratching words out. And I’m seeing a lot underlined, starting to get a little nervous. Despite some self doubt, I continue to march on and eat my feelings in Chinese takeout.

Someone once gave me the advice to not delete words of the story. Instead, to set them aside in another word document. They called it the ‘graveyard’, a place to store material that could be used in future works. Some smaller plotlines and inconsequential sentences are being moved to the graveyard, for safe keeping. Maybe they aren’t right in this story, but they may be useful in another story.

Writing and editing has its ups and down. Last week, I felt great about my WIP. In good spirits. Felt like my work was decent, at best. This week, however, I asked myself ‘who would read this trash?’. Yes, the creative process may be a rollercoaster. But if you ever feel like I do, please, keep working and just hold on for the ride. It’ll all be worth it in the end, I’m sure.

In other news, I have a question for you guys. I’ve considered changing the name of two of my characters. As I looked through potential names, I realized a name I really liked is the same name as a notable real person. Then that got me thinking. Is that alright? I mean, I guess this was bound to happen, since I’m using realistic human names. So, I’m opening the floor to you. What do you think of characters that coincidently share a name with a real-life person? How do you go about that? Curious what you all have to say on the matter.

Let’s s see what week three of Camp NaNoWriMo has in store for me. Hope everyone participating in Camp NaNoWriMo is making good progress on their work.

Happy Easter and Passover to anyone celebrating!


How are your creative endeavors coming along? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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