5 Keys to a Cozy Mystery Series

Sally Lindsay, creator and star of the Acorn TV crime drama The Madame Blanc Mysteries, shares tips for creating a binge-worthy escapist crime drama.

  1. CREATE THE WORLD.

When I initially had the idea for “The Madame Blanc Mysteries’ I knew that the first thing to do was to establish a genuine world around the lead character. I knew the lead was going to be a brilliant antiques dealer so where should it be set? In the South of France (it is well known in Europe) there are little villages on the coast that predominately get their main income from dealing in antiques. Italians swap antiquities with the British, French and German as different things are usually fashionable in different countries. I imagined what a village like this would be like, who would live there, where would its location be exactly in real life. Once the world is established, as a writer, you have a solid foundation for essentially taking the story where ever you want.

 

  1. CREATE A STRONG FORMAT.

The format of cozy crime is very important. There have been thousands of formats before so you have to take homage from them but it is essential to create your own original take on this or else the programme will feel stale. My idea for the format was to have a smaller proportion of the plot concentrating on the regular characters then the main script would be on the mystery. The trick is to intertwine the two and try to make it seamless for the audience.

 

  1. GET YOUR CHARACTERS RIGHT.

This sounds such a simple thing to say but the mix of characters is essential. All our regular characters have extremely detailed backstories and they are all written to for each actor individually. Our characters were meticulously drawn so Sue (Vincent my co-writer) and I know exactly what they are likely to do in any given situation. Therefore, this gives us the freedom to turn those personalities inside out sometimes and present three-dimensional lives.

 

  1. RESPECT YOUR AUDIENCE.

Knowing and respecting your audience is essential to grow a strong fan base. I wanted all the elements of programmes I have watched over the years included in Madame Blanc and wrote the show according to the kind of people who would like to watch me in a Lead role. Also, I am meticulous about the plot and the mystery. There is so much choice out there for this kind of show that you have to twist your plot as much as is feasibly possible within the restraints of your budget.

 

  1. GET THE BEST PEOPLE POSSIBLE AROUND YOU.

Choosing a director and crew that you have worked with before a new project I think is a shortcut to success. I am lucky to have my friend Dermot Boyd to direct all the shows, my old friend Steve Edge to be my other lead and my friend Sue Vincent to write them with. Half the crew and cast I had worked with before but the other half have now become like family also.

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