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Give Your Readers a Ride They’ll Never Forget

suspense woman

Today’s guest post is by suspense author Erika Mitchell:

When I was ten, a family friend took me to Disneyland. As we stood in line for Space Mountain, he leaned over to me and said, “You’ve gotta be careful on this ride. The ceilings are so low, they’ll take your head clean off if you sit up too straight.”

As soon as my butt hit the hard metal seat, I felt myself break out into a nervous sweat. The darkness up ahead was a patch of night sky without any stars in it, and as the ride jerked into motion I scooted down as low into my seat as I could and held on tight to the metal lap bar.

In pure darkness, I felt the car going up, slowly, interminably, just long enough to make me regret ever having gotten on the stupid ride in the first place. When we reached the top, I felt us teeter on the edge just long enough to grab half a gasp and then we were plunging down into Stygian black at what felt like a thousand miles an hour. Before I had a chance to recover from the plunge, the car was bucking left and right in a series of tight turns I couldn’t see coming, the thrill magnified and intensified by the very fact that I couldn’t anticipate anything up ahead. By the time I got off the ride, head still attached to my shoulders, I was hooked. I rode Space Mountain five times that day. Continue Reading…

Push the Boundaries to Create Believable Scenes and Characters in the Legal World

crime scene tape

Today’s post wraps up our extensive series taking a hard look at some of the professions fiction writers might choose to include in their stories. We’re covered posts that delve into law and legal systems and procedures, police proceduresmedical practices and forensics, judges, and now writer and ex-lawyer Jim Steinberg shares some great tips on being real about characters in the legal world.

“It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do, but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.” —Edmund Burke

Should you have in mind a story about people embroiled in a legal battle, these plain words of a towering figure in philosophy and political theory are worth remembering.

They hint that Burke, who gave up law school to travel and write and never plied the trade, might advise you to let your story cross the legal, moral, and ethical boundaries that the adversary process is intended to assert and protect.  He might say that to insist on your characters—the parties, lawyers, judges, investigators, and witnesses (both expert and lay)—keeping their conduct within those boundaries will not represent how things actually happen.  Nor will doing so guarantee an interesting story.  Continue Reading…

A Behind-the-Scenes Peek at Sitting on the Bench


Today’s post is part of a series on professionals sharing tips and expertise in order to help novelists convey accuracy in their fiction. If you are writing any scenes that include doctors, lawyers (posts here and here), investigators, or law enforcement officials, be sure to study these posts (and print them out for reference).

The following guest post is from Judge S. V. Brown, a former attorney who has been on the bench in California for three years:

If you are writing legal fiction, chances are you will have a scene in a courtroom. If you choose to include such a scene, don’t forget that the judge does not have to be a boring fringe character who issues rulings without emotion.

A courtroom is an emotionally charged environment, and judges are not immune to it. Give your judge depth and character and think about how your judge would respond in the scenarios you create. I have been a superior court judge a little over three years, and here are a few insights I can share about sitting on the bench.

Judges Are Not Know-It-Alls

When you see a judge, it’s easy to think, “This is the person with all the answers.” While judges have special training and access to resources, there is no special endowment of wisdom you get when you put on that robe.  Continue Reading…

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