Every civilisation needs laws of some sort, whether they are defined by the state, social convention or a god. Law is one of those lovely things you can use to keep your characters in check. It’s also a great tool for forcing your characters to do things they don’t really want to do.
There’s no example this time, but I will give you some more pointers here, since it’s sometimes hard to know where to begin. My first tip would be to work out who is creating these laws (maybe use several worksheets if you have multiple lawmakers in operation) and where they apply. Then, work out which laws could help or hinder your story. For example, a man trying to identify his wife’s killer will have a lot more assistance in a state where murder is illegal than he will in one where murder is fine. Both stories will work; the first sounds like a straight-up mystery-thriller, the second sounds kinda dystopic.
As well as keeping your characters from doing wrong, laws can also force your characters into uncomfortable situations. Perhaps one character forces another to commit a crime in exchange for something? Or perhaps the laws themselves force a character to do things they find immoral, such as spying on neighbours as might happen under a highly authoritarian government (again, a little dystopic).
Here’s a list of broad laws categories that you may find helpful:
- Violent crime (murder, assault, threatened assault etc.)
- Sexual crime (rape, sexual abuse, harassment etc.)
- Property crime (theft, burglary, vandalism, arson, extortion etc.)
- Fraud (forgery, identity theft, scamming etc.)
- Weapons offences (use or possession of illegal weaponry)
- Vice Crime (adultery, gambling, drugs, fornication etc.)
- Drug crime (distribution, production, trafficking etc.)
- Offences against the State/Justice/Humanity
- Hate crime (against race, religion, sexuality etc.)
- Public order offences/Offences against public morals
- Traffic and vehicle offences (speeding, DUI etc.)
- Inchoate offences (attempt, conspiracy, incitement, solicitation)
- Juvenile offences (crime committed by minors)
Next week’s worksheet will focus on the punishments for committing the crimes, adding the next step in your judicial system.
As always, don’t stress over it and enjoy!