A way with worlds: 25 - Crime and Punishment (and a lot of other stuff)
by Steven Savage of Seventh Sanctum
Page 2 of 2
Law stops crime.
Really? How do you know? Or
which laws? Do some laws stop one crime and encourage others? Do
people always like new laws?
Laws and their enforcement
have repercussions, and they may not (and in my opinion often ae
not) what people would expect. Aggressive law enforcement can
spur mistakes and public anger. A badly-phrased law can lead to
odd enforcement and sentancing. An ignornat law can produce a
backlash, and harsh laws can produce a rebellion.
Do not assume simple,
mechanistic law-obeyed-problem-solved behavior in any society.
People are a lot more complex than that.
MYTHS TO AVOID:
When writing about law and crime in your setting, be
aware of these myths:
- Fear produces
obedience - Fear produces a lot of things, including
psychosis, terror, and punching someone who made you
afraid in the nose. Do not assume people will obey laws
simply out of fear.
- "In the good
old days" - This is a classic way to justify
portraying law and crime in a historical or
historically-based setting - well in these days
such-and-such worked, and such-and-such didn't. Don't
assume. Do your research, there are a lot of myths out
there. Also, if you go for the "in this day crime
was low" routine, ask yourself just what people of
the time you are writing about/basing your work on
considered crime - a little hint, see if women and
children recieved much legal protection.
- "In this
country" - See "In the good old days,"
and be aware of ethnic stereotypes to boot.
- Laws Stand the Test
of Time - Laws change and alter, as do the cultures
they are in. A good idea at one point may not be down the
road, and a law may adapt well to changing times. There's
some basic ideas that always seem to work - don't murder,
don't steal - but beyond what is needed to punish
egergeiously, directly destructive behavior . . .
- "Things would
be perfect if . . ." - If, when writing a story
dealing with crime, you ever find yourself sounding like
a politician, pause. I find that can be a sign you're
resorting to stereotypes or shallow thinking.
Writing about law and crime is not easy. There's a lot
of elements to how laws are made and enforced. There's a lot of
complexity. Careful planning, thinking over repercussions, and
not having an agenda can make sure your writing . . . isn't a
Page of Generators
OK, I'm going to plug my own
work for a moment. This is a page that houses
random Anime attacks, and even overblown fantasy plots. Not only
useful or entertaining, feel free to experiment with the code.
The Future That Never Was
A look at how predictions of
the future didn't quite work out. Excellent for SF writers. Very,
very insightful if you write SF or retro/historical.
Future Life: Machines or ET
What kind of alien
"life" will we encounter or become? A serious look at
what an advanced species may be like now try imagining
nanotech spacecraft the size of grass blades . . .
Need a realistic medieval set of
names? Come here and find out how it was really done.
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and is archived at the Way With
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Steven Savage, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.