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Using the Law to Enhance Your Sci Fi, Fantasy and Romance Story

November 29, 2010

Tags: science fiction, horror, fantasy, writing tips

You have to build a whole new world if you’re writing sci fi, fantasy or horror. That world will necessarily have laws. And you’re the one who decides what those laws are. Thinking about the law and how it applies to your world will open up possibilities, provide inspiration, and make your story more believable.

If you think about it, you’ll realize the law touches everything your characters do, especially in sci fi. Their alarm clock went through customs and is regulated. Does your sci fi protag buy an experimental alarm clock that runs on nuclear fusion? Their cereal box has legal requirements about how contents are listed and what claims it can make. Does your horror or fantasy hero change into something non-human after he eats cereal contaminated with a mysterious chemical?

Pharmaceutical companies have to test their drugs extensively before your characters can take them. Companies handling hazardous materials must dispose of them in particular ways. Your characters might lose a friend or relative if someone doesn’t follow the law. Or maybe the whole world changes because something deadly was set loose.

Anything that can go wrong for your characters might end up in court, or have already been there. You think the law doesn’t affect your sci fi character? Think again. Here are some ways sci fi, fantasy and horror stories are affected by the law.

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Using the Law to Enhance Your Romance Story

November 20, 2010

Tags: romance, writing tips

Romance writers frequently tell me the law doesn’t apply to their stories. Yet the law is everywhere in romance. If you start thinking about the law when you write, it can be used to enhance your story, flesh out your characters, get you unstuck, or even inspire you.

Let’s talk about some ways the law might impact your romance novel.

Background/characterization: Your characters come from a background that affects the way they view romantic relationships. If the characters’ parents are divorced, the nature of the divorce could color their view of romance. Was the divorce contested or amicable? Traditional or collaborative? Juno is the first time I’ve ever seen collaborative law used in a story, and it was used correctly. Collaborative law is the hottest trend in family law, so it might apply to your romance story.

Current lifestyle: If your characters are divorced, do they have custody or visitation? Is it still in court? The terms of divorce determine how much money they have to live on, when they have the kids, what property they own. It’s important to think about how the terms of divorce affect your characters’ daily lives. If it’s still in court, do they . . . more

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