Sunday, December 19, 2010

Characters Trial by Fire (or Judge Judy)

Judge Judy and side kick Byrd
Judge Judy, that pint-sized bundle of legal dynamics and electric energy—what a personality.

She’s a no nonsense, don’t lie to me judge of human character, motive and probability. Whether or not you find her particular brand of justice, the way she has of grilling defendants and/or plaintiffs too strong and harsh, or just right, here is something you may not have thought to include in your writing arsenal. The printed word will be all the better for it.

What Judge Judy can do for your writing? If you are a novelist, Judy can help your writing whether you write crime, mystery novels, or some other genre.  If you are a novelist, no matter what genre, listen carefully to her words.

“Don’t tell me what you feel. That’s conjecture and that calls for a conclusion. Don’t tell me what she/he knows. Just tell me in, your own words, the facts. You can’t know how he/she feels; you can’t get in his/her head/mind. Don’t tell me we—you only know what you did, said, and saw—you can’t be in another person’s eyes, ears or thoughts." No head hopping for Judy - stay in one person's view point.

Judge Judy demands eye contact. “Look here, don’t look down, don’t look over there, look right here.” Looking her straight in the eye, would you dare tell her anything but the truth? If your eyes wander, so does your truth, focus, as you would keep your character(s) focused. 

Conversation—what you said, what he/she said, not an interpretation or generalization of what transpired. I want sentences, verbatim, what was said. You asked, she answered. She/he asked you answered. Don’t give me the gist of the conversation; give me the meat and potatoes – the word for word conversation.

The characters in your novel need to answer to Judge Judy’s directions. Show me, prove it, don’t generalize—show don’t tell. Give me your interpretation and I’ll be shouting—I’ll be the judge of who is right or wrong.

 She gives a whole new meaning to the phrase—show, don’t tell—doesn’t she?


Pat said...

What she does for me is to make show vs tell much clearer. I was once told by another writer to write as if I had a camera strapped to my head. That helped some, but this is better. But then, Judge Judy is more impressive too. LOL

Word Crafter said...

Thanks Pat I appreciate you taking the time to visit and comment. Yup on the camera idea too. I've heard that a time or two as well.
Thanks again.

Rhobin said...

I've watched Judge Judy, but never thought in your frame about what she says to the people in her court. It's true; very interesting.

Word Crafter said...

Isn't it neat what a little twist can do -- creative minds don't ya know. Now I bet you'll be looking for more ways to connect to your writing.
Thanks for stopping by and your comments!