Any writer wishing to take on the legal system first needs to understand the who, what, where, why and how of the subject. Ms. Wyle has successfully provided that information in her book “Closest to the Fire” which is a massive undertaking. Just check out the table of contents.
While this book is a guide and the author encourages readers not to just go from A to Z, I decided to read the first four chapters straight through to get the feel for her style. Thereafter, I poked around at different chapters that caught my attention.
The author clearly explains numerous aspects of the law, civil and criminal, and the people associated with it and in so doing, offers up possible scenarios a writer may choose to incorporate into a story. In fact, just about everything in the book, if you look closely enough, will provide clues for a novel or film script. But the author specifically points out possibilities with her use of asterisks for plot points. The author also peppers her work with references to films with legal plots.
You’ll read historical references and explanations of how some laws changed and why. You’ll learn the distinctions of criminal acts surrounding rape, robbery and theft, perjury, various threats and so forth. All written in an easy to understand fashion.
The one thing made abundantly clear at the outset and at the end is that this book is to be used as a writers’ guide and readers should not rely upon it for legal advice. That being said, I found the book very useful in understanding aspects of the law and, if writing a scene or screenplay involving the legal system, this would definitely be a resource I would use. Well done, Ms. Wyle.
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