So you’ve created that tabs for your trial binder. You’ve printed out cases relevant to every evidentiary hurdle possible. Now you’re stuck on how to tell the story. The left brain is pumped up and the right brain is limply scrolling Buzzfeed and Facebook. We each have our guilty pleasure internet sites that we cruise to when we’re stuck on a problem. Here are two websites guaranteed to entertain and unstick ideas from a weary noggin. 

Pixar’s rules for Storytelling is a gem of a list, which I used recently to craft a cross. It was obvious the cops were lying about what happened when they pulled my client’s car over.  I couldn’t figure out how to make that obvious in a cross other than saying, “Really?” and “C’mon!”   Granted these are one-word crosses, but perhaps I could do better. Enter Pixar’s Rule #9: “When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up”   Before you could say, “To infinity and beyond,” I had a cross pointing out what my client didn’t do when the cops approached and all what the cops should have done during the stop.

Draco in leather pants. Need I say more? Maybe I do. The Periodic Table of Storytelling presents this and 176 other tropes that appear in literature, movies and TV. Some of you may be familiar with Chekov’s Gun and Deus Ex-Machina as plot devices. The Periodic Table of Storytelling includes those as well as Heroes (e.g. “Plucky Girl” and “Idiot Hero”), Villians (e.g. “Amoral Attorney” and “Enemy Within”), and Story Modifiers (e.g.. “Mundane Made Awesome” and “Jumping the Shark”).  Clicking on each element delivers you to a wiki page that defines it and provides examples in movies, literature, music and gaming. There is a heavy emphasis on Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but if you’ve made a career of representing people society often considers undesirable, entering the world of geeks shouldn’t phase you.

Toodling around the Periodic Table inspires ways to frame the parties in your case and points to pitfalls to avoid. Take Draco in Leather Pants, for example. Draco Malfoy is Harry Potter’s nemesis in the childrens’ book series. Despite the author’s intention to present him as an unsympathetic bully, a significant number of Harry Potter fans root for Draco rather than Harry. By understanding this phenomena, hopefully you can avoid having your jury sympathize with the jailhouse snitch who is testifying against your client. 

With a bit of luck and productive web-surfing, you’ll have an acquittal faster than it takes Lightning McQueen to complete a lap around the speedway