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22 April 2009 @ 03:25 pm
Possibly not a good sign...  

lizhand, in her lecture on the Odyssey Podcast, says that people (especially Americans) love to read details about how things work. So, if you know somethin' about somethin', and can work it into a story, you'll make it more interesting to many readers.

The things I know somethin' about (apart from what I read about, like history and astronomy, and stuff nearly everybody knows, like childrearing) are law, teaching and theater. So I've been thinking of ways to work them into SFF stories.

Right I'm working on the background for a new story that takes place in the not-too-distant future, when there's been I'm-not-saying-what change in the law, as a result of I'm-not-saying-what change in technology. Now, in law school they teach you how to read a statute, and in law practice you have to read a mess of them. So I wondered what the actual wording of the statute would be.

I took a crack at drafting it. After completing seven separate subsections, I stopped. (I did manage to keep myself from drafting the "Definitions" section, but it was a struggle.) Then I tried my hand at creating a federal form that would be required under the statute. I have no idea whether the text of either of these will appear in the story itself.

The thing is, it was fun. I really enjoyed it. I feel like Alan Strang admitting he gets turned on by horses, or T. E. Lawrence admitting that he likes killing people...

Current Location: Above the flooded basement
Current Mood: sillysilly
Current Music: Jonatha Brooke, "The Prodigal Daughter"
girlspell: flying eaglegirlspell on April 22nd, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)
LOL...you do love that stuff. Being a lawyer is a plus as a novelist. I'm sure you're aware of the very fine fiction writers out that happen to be lawyers. What makes them good is when they spin a story, they know how to wrap a plot around a potential sticky situation for the hero, villian, what have you. In the plot, they know a handy legal way to get around it. And the inevitable corruptness that makes a riveting story.
Kenken_schneyer on April 23rd, 2009 01:51 am (UTC)
Hi, Rachel. Yes, it's true, if you can't tell a coherent story then you have no business trying to practice law (or teach -- but unfortunately there are some college teachers, who...) "Handy legal way to get around it" doesn't help usually, unless you're writing a story about a lawyer, in which case...
ajjones on April 22nd, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
Enjoying research is definitely a plus! I've always found torn between that 'write what you know' thing everyone hits you with, when I'm usually writing scifi. I guess the key is to inject what you DO know into your unreality to give it a realistic spice.
Kenken_schneyer on April 23rd, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
True. Although this wasn't research. This was making up a fake statute, which is kind of sick...

What Liz actually recommended in her lecture, as an exercise, was that every person take his or her worst day at work, and then write it up as something that happened on a mythic scale (on Olympus or something). I didn't try it, but I sure thought about it...
Kenken_schneyer on April 28th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
Hm! I started putting more law into my SF stories becauase of a comment an editor once made to me concerning a story he liked but was rejecting: We don't get enough stories with legal topics by people who really know what they're talking about. So, okay, I thought -- at least I know one guy who'll take a second look at certain types of stories by me. And so far, that's been right.

I think the real trick is to find a topic you enjoy reading about, do the reading for the fun of it, and then find a story to write within that topic. I read a 600-page biography for a time travel story I was planning to write, and the reading completely changed the emphasis of the story for me.
amamamaamamama on April 23rd, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)
What's wrong with enjoying writing a fictional statute? I don't get it. I'd say to be a good storyteller you should go with your joy. Have fun. Doesn't that make a good story? I'm no fiction writer, but I think the same rings true in fiction as in RL - go with your joy. Combined with the "Cardamom Law" - do not bother others, be kind and gentle, and then do as you please. :-)
Kenken_schneyer on April 24th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Ironic humor, B, about being a lawyer.

Now, this "Cardamom Law" thingy -- I understand it, but are these properties you associate with cardamom itself?
amamamaamamama on April 24th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
I'm obviously the slowest one around - I just didn't get that. Cardamom Law has nothing to do with the spice, but with a children's book. People and robbers of Cardamom Town: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folk_og_r%C3%B8vere_i_Kardemomme_by And the law in Cardamom, as written by the chief police officer, is a very simple and liberal view of law - as long as you don't bother others, and are kind and gentle, you can do as you please.
madderbradmadderbrad on April 27th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
You're a lawyer, you're supposed to enjoy things like that, aren't you?

Besides, it's *your* law, in *your* world, so I can well understand how you could get so totally immersed in it.
Kenken_schneyer on April 28th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
Ah, but I never expected to enjoy writing law in the middle of writing fiction. But truly, there's something intensely satisfying about really knowing/understanding your topic, even in fiction. When I know the details are right, it makes the story more believable to me.