The Architecture of Drama: How Lawyers Can Use Screenwriting Techniques to Tell More Compelling Stories
Legal Writing: J. Legal Writing Inst., Forthcoming
28 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2018 Last revised: 8 Oct 2018
Date Written: August 6, 2018
Hollywood writers have a secret. They know how to tell a compelling story—so compelling that the top-grossing motion pictures rake in millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars. How do they do it? They use a simple formula involving three acts that propel the story forward, three "plot points" that focus on the protagonist, and two "pinch points" that focus on the adversary. The attached Article argues that lawyers should build their stories in the same way Hollywood writers do. It deconstructs the storytelling formula used in movies and translates it into an IRAC-like acronym, SCOR. Attorneys who use SCOR will not have to design the architecture of their clients' stories anew each time they sit down to write. SCOR will do it for them. Using SCOR will therefore make their jobs as writers easier and quicker—and it will result in more compelling, convincing stories and, ultimately, better client outcomes.
The Article is a good candidate for publication for two reasons. First, it is unique. There is a robust body of scholarship on lawyers as storytellers, and some of it delves into strategies taken from the world of fiction. But none of it discusses the open secret in Hollywood, that motion pictures virtually all follow a standard story structure, and applies that structure to legal writing. Second, the Article is innovative. It attempts to do for facts sections what IRAC does for argument sections: provide an off-the-shelf pattern for telling client stories (SCOR) that will both make the lawyer-writer's job easier and make the audience better situated to comprehend the story the lawyer is trying to tell.
Everyone agrees that storytelling matters to lawyers; the question is not whether to tell a story, but how to tell it. This Article addresses the "how" of story structure.
Keywords: legal writing, screenwriting, screenplays, storytelling, story architecture, narrative theory, briefs, oral arguments, IRAC, Miranda v. Arizona
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