Writing creative crime and legal fiction can be exciting and rewarding. But it can also be daunting. Producing fiction in this genre requires meticulous planning and research. Many writers spend years practicing before they’re able to craft convincing legal and crime stories.
If you’ve ever thought of writing a creative crime and legal fiction but don’t know where or how to begin, this article will help you.
Some people have their stories crafted and written in their heads but find it difficult bringing it to life in the form of a short story, a novel, an essay, a script, or a poem.
It is daunting to create anything. It takes a lot of mastery to transform ideas and imaginations into a flawless story.
This is especially true when the writing is centered around technical fields such as:
- Legal proceedings
- Crime and criminal investigations.
Law is a specialized field. It is quite a ‘wordy’ vocation as it involves the use of specific language. In law and crime, the rules and procedures are complex.
Writers of crime and legal fiction must, therefore, have an in-depth knowledge of these rules. Or else, their stories will be riddled with plot-holes. And their characters will be flat.
Before we delve into some tried-and-tested tips for writing creative crime and legal fiction, let’s define the term Legal Fiction.
What is Creative Legal Fiction?
Creative legal fiction is a genre of creative writing that focuses on legal and criminal plot-lines. In most cases, legal fiction portrays the life of a legal personality, the workings of a system or the complexity of a social issue.
For instance, your legal fiction can portray the issues of domestic violence, false rape accusation, good-lawyer-teams up-with-criminals and/or the love life of a legal personality.
The stories are spun using all or some of the elements of creative writing. Crime and legal stories are written using creative and imaginative words.
Legal jargon is used sparingly and mostly in dialogue. Vivid words are used to elicit specific reactions and emotions from the readers.
Due to their training, lawyers and security enforcement agents seem to be best suited for writing crime and legal fiction. However, statistics show that any passionate writer can excel in this genre.
If you’re interested in earning a six-figure book or movie deal as a legal or crime fiction writer, you need to learn the ropes. How can you cloth your stories with credibility and authenticity? How can a newbie do research for their law-related stories?
To make your job easier, we have done in-depth research and gathered some legal fiction writing tips. Here’s a detailed guide to writing creative crime and legal fiction.
Think Up Unique Story Ideas.
As with most created things, the process starts with having an idea. It is that idea which will be transformed into a tangible product.
There are many places and ways to get ideas on writing legal and crime fiction. Books, movies, case law reports, crime reports, and court proceedings can inspire you to write bestselling legal fiction.
Plan and Outline.
Having a great idea is not enough. You need a plan of action to turn your ideas into a tangible story that people can read.
A plan will serve as a framework that will guide you in the process of developing your ideas into a finished product. This process is sometimes referred to as outlining.
A plan usually involves developing the plot and breaking the plot into chapters. More on this in our next point.
Spin an Interesting Plot.
A plot refers to a sequence of events as they unfold in a story. The plot and subplot in a story are divided into a beginning, middle, and an end.
In creative writing however, a plot is more than just a sequence of events. A good plot should raise a dramatic question through a sudden turn of events. A good plot shows which question is answered as the story progresses.
To come up with a good plot for your creative legal fiction, you need to feed your mind by reading and watching good legal materials.
John Grisham and James Patterson novels are great examples of legal fiction. Boston Legal, and The Good Wife are some memorable legal fiction sitcoms.
Create Believable Characters.
In creative writing, a character is usually a person or being that plays a part in the unfolding story.
Make your characters active, relevant and indispensable. Create characters that drive the actions in the story.
Your characters can play the roles of heroes, rogues, villains, good, bad, corrupt, incorruptible, etc. But make them rounded and balanced. Your heroes should be flawed in some way. And your anti-heros must have some good attributes too.
To create interesting legal characters, think of the different legal personalities you have met or read about.
Choose Your Setting Wisely.
Every event in a story takes place at a certain time and location. The setting in your story refers to the place where the plot takes place.
In legal fiction, although the entire plot may not take place in a legal environment, however, some of the events might take place there.
Properly capturing and describing the legal setting in your book is very key to the success of your story.
If the setting in your book is a courtroom, for example, you should visit and observe a court sitting. This way you can capture the sights and sounds in the court and help your readers visualize the setting.
Three elements make up the setting in a story; – time, place, and environment.
Point Of View.
Once you have decided on your characters and settings, you need to choose how the story will come across to your readers.
The point of view of a story has to do with who is going to tell the story. It could be any of the many characters in your story or an omniscient narrator.
In fiction, the four main points of view include:
- The first person POV,
- The second person POV,
- The third person omniscient POV,
- The third person limited POV.
Most legal fiction are narrated from the point of view of a legal personality or a third person omniscient POV. These points of views allow the reader to feel closer to the legal personality in the story. It also allows the reader to get closer to the action.
Many beginner writers think research in writing is only reserved for academic and scholarly works. Wrong!
Yes, you are writing fiction, which is make-believe and not real. But you are still expected to get your facts right.
If you are going to capture a court proceeding in your novel, it is important to get the proceedings right.
Also when writing about a criminal investigation, you need to capture the details and criminal procedure correctly. Or else, book critics will point out these mistakes in the book reviews they will publish.
Remember, you don’t want to come across as a fraud.
Write on Familiar and Passionate Issues.
The best and easiest way to sound authentic in your writings is to write on familiar and passionate issues.
Writing on unfamiliar issues will become evident in your script as your readers will notice your struggle.
Proofread and Edit.
Many people are discouraged by the first draft of their works. Some even go as far as abandoning their manuscripts forever. Big mistake!
Every bestselling page-turner was once a drab first draft. The difference between you and those award winning writers is grit. The big writers you admire never gave up. They rewrote and edited their manuscripts until every sentence in the book sang.
Like gold, diamonds, and other precious metals, your first draft needs to undergo the process of editing and proofreading to match the quality you have in mind.
So, don’t try to make it perfect the first time. You will be discouraged. Even those considered as literary giants rarely got it right the first time.
Some experts advise that you set out a specific time and place for your writing. Having a schedule is a great way to bring discipline to your writing.
While scheduling can help you stay focused and productive in your writings, over-scheduling can have an adverse effect.
When you insist on writing only at a particular time and place, you run the risk of missing out on great ideas that may come to you at odd hours and places.
As a writer, ideas can come to you at any time and place. Your ability to write them down immediately will help you not miss a great idea.
Creative legal fiction is all about writing fictional stories to educate, entertain, and express a thought or opinion on some legal issues.
Your capacity to write creative legal fiction depends on having great ideas and creating legal stories around them.
To succeed in writing creative crime and legal fiction, you must be willing to think and write creatively around legal issues and characters.