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How Creative Writing and Legal Writing are Connected By Braxton Mounteer

How one writes in the legal world and how one writes in the world of creative are both very similar and very different. When I became a legal assistant, I thought that expository and creative writing would rarely overlap, yet they do, and they do more often than I’d expected.

Word choice is crucial in both legal and creative writing. Word choice affects how the scene or clause plays out. Word choice affects whether the idea is conveyed effectively (or not).When writing creatively, one builds a scene either from the ground or based upon previous paragraphs. It is about weaving a description and dialogue into a complete scene. These complete scenes are arranged according to the conventions of storytelling that each genre follows. Eventually a complete story appears, whether it is a novel, novella, or short story.

Legal writing is the same in this sense that one is also building on statutes, court rules, and caselaw. Each sentence builds on the one previously to construct an argument and analysis.

Whether one is trying to spare a criminal defendant from punishment or persuade a judge or jury to rule in a party’s favor, how one says what one means is crucial. One piece of advice I am finding applies equally both to creative and legal writing is: “You may think you have done enough if you write so that you can be understood. Well, you haven’t. You must write so that you can’t be misunderstood.”

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