Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guest Post, Donna Ballman

Today our guest post is by a nonfiction book. Her name is Donna Ballman and she wrote a guide that many writers would probably find useful. Also, it has quite the witty title!

The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers

By Donna Ballman

Everything you need to inspire your writing, help your characters navigate the legal system, and get your story right. When your fiction or non-fiction calls for a character to sue someone or be sued and survive the ordeal, this book should be number one on your docket.

Winner of the Florida Writers Association's 2010 Royal Palm Literary Awards.

Award-Winning Finalist in the Business: Reference category of the "Best Books 2010" Awards, sponsored by USA Book News

With foreword by Alex Ferrer, TV's Judge Alex. Featuring comments and writing tips from bestseller Brad Meltzer and other lawyers.


Maybe you have a novel, story, screenplay, or other writing project that has a character involved with the court system. Or you're a journalist writing a story about a court case. (Some law students and new lawyers have said they found it useful too, but we can't vouch for its exam-worthiness).

When you write, sometimes you don't know where your mind will take you. Maybe there's a character in your head but you haven't decided what to do with them. Or you have a plot that's stuck. The law is a great device for writers. It can add an obstacle, a sexy twist, or a fun character to your story. 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.

The law can also accidentally drift into your plot, and laypeople who read your books, watch your shows, or read your articles will learn what they know about the justice system from you. Everything your characters touch during their day has something to do with the law. They wake up. Their alarm clock went through customs and is regulated. Or was it made with hazardous materials that make your character sick. They drive to work in a car that doesn't explode when hit from behind because of civil lawyers. Or are they caught up in a conspiracy to cover up the defect? They go to work and, because of employment laws, have to be paid wages and overtime, can't be subjected to discrimination, can't be retaliated against because they objected to illegal activity. Or is conflict in the workplace your character’s central problem? When they get a divorce, your characters have to do it through the civil justice system. The terms of that divorce affect their daily lives. If a character dies, their will has to go through probate. Does the family inherit or are they left destitute?

Whether or not your character’s world is just or it all goes horribly wrong is up to you as the writer.

Most lawyers can't read or watch stories about law because the factual errors are too frustrating. Gross misunderstanding of how the justice system works can take away from even the best plot. There are over 1.1 million lawyers in the United States, so alienating them with mistakes that are easily corrected can affect your sales and ratings.

The purpose of The Writer's Guide to the Courtroom is to touch on some of the highlights, to give you a starting point for your research or just trigger an idea for your story. This book is for every writer who doesn't have a law degree, and even for those lawyer/writers who are writing outside their area of practice.


Buy it at Better World Books.

Buy it at Barnes & Noble.

Available on in traditional and Kindle format.

Available on in traditional and Kindle format.


Read an excerpt from The Writer's Guide to the Courtroom.


Like The Writer's Guide to the Courtroom on Facebook.

Find out more about using the law in your writing by following Donna's blog, The Write Report.

Listen to Donna Ballman talk about the latest writing and publishing news and tips on using the law in publishing with literary agent Peter Cox on Radio Litopia's The Debriefer.

You can stay up to date with the latest writing and publishing headlines by following Donna on Twitter @WriterDonna.


If you like The Writer's Guide to the Courtroom, don't forget to write a review on Amazon, in your blog or on Litopia.


Travel The Ages book review.

Florida Bar Journal book review.


Thank you, Donna Ballman, for sharing your book!


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