Although The Story Was Well-Written But It Was Too Unbelievable 5 Tips for Writing Authentic Crime and Legal Fiction

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5 Tips for Writing Authentic Crime and Legal Fiction

Writing about a highly technical subject, such as crime or law, can be intimidating. In the world of criminal law, there are numerous rules, practices and procedures. Criminal lawyers speak their own language. To write a good crime or legal story, a writer needs to have credibility.

Credibility comes from working within the rules of the criminal law and speaking the language of the criminal law. But you don’t have to be a cop or a lawyer to write about crime or criminal law with authenticity. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Intelligence: Like any genre, a good story has to start with interesting characters and plot twists. Write down conceptual ideas physically without regard to order, quality, or completeness. Just start writing, and let the ideas flow.

2. Be inspired: Inspiration often comes from outside sources, often unexpectedly. Read great books, and watch great movies, especially crime and legal dramas. Read about crime in the news. Follow the interesting trial. Watch true crime stories on television and read true crime books. You never know when some small tidbit will spark a story in you.

3. Outlining: Everyone has their own method and opinion about outlining. Whether organized by chapter, act, scene, character, or plot point, the outline is an important tool for organizing a story. The more complex the story, the more important the outline. Outlines can be especially important in a crime novel or legal drama because your story needs to fit within the rules of the criminal justice world.

For example, if you want to discover a piece of incriminating evidence at the end of Act Two, you need to know how the evidence is realistically likely to unfold to help determine what stage of the legal process the case is at.

4. Educate yourself: Read about real criminal law on the internet and in books. Find information specifically aimed at non-lawyers. Watch real trials when they are televised. Watch true crime shows. Although they often cut out a lot of detail, especially procedural stuff, they usually get things right. Read news stories and true crime books. The same caveat goes for these sources: they are generally accurate but often leave out details you might want to know

Don’t rely on lead lawyer commentators on television. They usually talk above their heads and often get things wrong. They often have an agenda that they push and talk about things from that perspective. Finally, don’t rely on other criminal law fiction. Crime fiction in television, movies, and books is often completely, eye-rollingly off the mark.

5. Consult an expert: When in doubt, ask a question. As you brainstorm, outline, and draft, keep notes of questions that come up. Consulting an expert, usually a criminal lawyer, can be expensive, so try to know what guidance you want before contacting one. Also, be sure to talk to someone who is able to explain things simply and clearly and is willing to admit when they don’t know something.

Following these tips will give a writer the confidence to venture into the world of criminal law and begin writing crime and legal stories with authenticity.

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