If you’d like to learn even more about writing characters who find themselves involved with law enforcement or sitting in a court room, sign up for Jody’s September workshop. You can find more information and registration details here.
Meanwhile, this post is a great starting point.
~ Jody Lebel
Why do so many television shows and movies include courtroom scenes? Because people love drama. They love to try to figure out who committed the crime. They love the fight between right and wrong, the humor, the gut wrenching outcomes, and the struggle. Courts tear lives apart and build new ones. Readers pick sides and cheer the character on. If you write the scene correctly, that is.
Maybe you already have a novel, story, or other writing project that has a character involved with the court system, but oftentimes the law can accidentally drift into your plot. A car could hit someone. Your character might be subject to discrimination at work. Doctors make a wrong diagnosis. Companies handling hazardous materials don’t dispose of them the right way and cause problems. When they get a divorce, your characters have to do it through the civil justice system. If a character dies, their will has to go through probate.
Anything that can go wrong can end up in court. When that happens do you know how to choreograph the scene? Will your characters act appropriately, be in the right court, and say the right things? Will the actions of the police ring true?
Most people who work in the courts or in law enforcement can’t read or watch stories about it because the factual errors are too frustrating. Gross misunderstanding of how the justice system works can take away from even the best plot, and take your readers out of the story. A place we don’t want them to ever go. Getting it right will enhance your story. Getting it wrong may make the reader close your book and vow to never buy another written by you.
This class is for all levels of writers. I’ll walk you through the mystery that is ‘court’. As we go along I encourage you to ask me questions about your WIP. It’s important that you get that scene right and I want to help you do it. Our month-long class will be split into 4 weeks of either 3 or 4 lessons per week, totaling 14 classes in all. We will cover courtrooms, trials, different types of courts, the players, the lingo, writing legal scenes, sentencing, crime scene work, and cops. I hope to see you there.
Following sixteen years as a travel agent (more travel than money) Jody Lebel switched gears, returned to school and became a court reporter (more money than travel). She swapped jetting off to fun and exotic locations for reporting the cases of murderers, rapists, and thieves who are, by the way, almost never in a good mood. Being assigned to the chief judge in Broward County exposed her to a wide spectrum of cases; from funny to tragic to bizarre to downright creepy. She has reported everything from a homeless guy who had jumped the turnstile on the Metrorail and was now in jail for not having a quarter, to the Tamiami Strangler, a serial killer who murdered six women.I have participated as a panel member in multiple writing conferences on the subject of writing accurate courtroom, legal and police scenes. On my last panel the speakers consisted of a judge, an attorney and myself as the court reporter. I revamped this in-person session to form an on-line class which allows me to expand the lessons, and assist writers to construct solid, realistic legal/police scenes.I am a criminal court stenographer by day, and have been working in the field since 1997 in both southern Florida and Massachusetts.