On writing: The Big Courtroom Scene, and How To Get It Wrong On Purpose

You know those dramatic courtroom scenes that appear in so many movies and TV shows? People shouting and pointing and objecting, and stuff? They're wildly inaccurate--that kind of crazy stuff rarely happens in real courts.

So I wrote one into Coming Attractions.

It's the climactic moment in the book, and honestly it's one of the favorite chapters I've ever written, anywhere. The scene concerns a property dispute at the heart of the whole story--whether a beloved drive-in movie theater will continue to operate. It ends in a moment that's fun and funny, emotional, dramatic … and utterly unrealistic. Originally I wanted to write a scene that was as realistic to what would really happen as possible, but in the end I threw courtroom procedure out the door and just went for it.

May the attorney and judges of the world forgive me.

The scene takes place in this courthouse, because I'm too lazy to invent one of my own.


I don't advocate this, by the way. Yeah, fiction is fictional--it's right there in the definition. But in my sometimes humble opinion, writers should strive for a certain amount of accuracy when it comes to real life occupations. Nothing throws me out of a story faster than, say, firefighters who enter a burning building without establishing a water supply, when they clearly could. (I threw that book across the room.) Maybe some attorneys and judges will appreciate my attempt to just have a little fun; maybe some of them hope to see me in their court someday. For Coming Attractions I threw caution to the wind for the sake of entertainment, but that kind of thing can boomerang.

Why did I take the chance? In the end, it was just so much fun. And that's the same excuse that in other cases starts with "Hey, watch this", and ends with "Don't worry, you'll be out of that full body cast in no time".


The Noble County Courthouse in Albion, Indiana, is a few blocks from my home. My writing research budget is very low.
Find all of our books at:
http://markrhunter.com/
https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0058CL6OO

12 comments:

  1. The judges and attorneys may not forgive you, but I'm sure your readers will. Tweeted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When the lawyers buy a copy, then we'll talk!

      Delete
  2. Your writing is always entertaining. No matter which judge you wind up with

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As long as I'm not meeting him on an official basis!

      Delete
  3. If you're having fun, why not?
    BTW do you read John Grisham? I think he has fun whenever he can. Highly recommend Rooster Bar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess I'll have to try him again. I read "The Firm" and found it detailed, highly accurate, and incredibly dull--it was all I could do to wade my way through it.

      But then, I also gave up on Dean Koontz, until I read his Odd Thomas books, and now I'm a fan again.

      Delete
  4. When you can't have fun writing then it's time to take up knitting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! Well, not entirely--I hate knitting.

      Delete
  5. I'm not sure, but I think the whole dramatic courtroom climax got really started by Erle Stanley Gardner with his Perry Mason in 1933 [who was always more of a vigilante than a lawyer]. His books were so popular that people came to expect those shenanigans. Maybe most of us know better now, but I still prefer a good Perry Mason to a strictly correct Grisham.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same. And if that style of courtroom antics started anywhere, it would be with Perry Mason!

      Delete