‘Law & Order’ provides lessons

By Adam Kotlarczyk

This week I learned something that might change how we write forever. How, you ask? From that essential educational tool celebrated across the nation by parents and teachers alike: television.

The last time I watched television with any regularity, “The Dukes of Hazard” was in its original run. But this week, I stumbled onto “Law & Order.” It’s just like “Dukes,” but without quite so many cars jumping over things (and, disappointingly, no Daisy Dukes). And it has approximately 387 spin-offs, including “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Law & Order: SVU,” and “Law & Order: Underpants Division.”

So what can “Law and Order” teach us about writing? Well, ever notice how the show leaps from scene to scene, just making that weird “DOINK-DOINK” sound? It’s brilliant. And it works with writing, too. Transition sentences? Overrated.

So if you ever write yourself into a corner, and don’t know what to do next …

DOINK-DOINK. You know it’s a slow news week when the top story is about Duluth, Georgia bride-to-be Jennifer Wilbanks, who faked her own abduction the week before her wedding (yes, it’s a good thing there isn’t anything important to report on in the world right now, like war or genocide). She called her fiancé from New Mexico, saying she’d been kidnapped and prompting a massive three-day search.

I know our first inclination is to laugh at this story. It’s just one of those things that’s funny because it happened to someone else, like that day your roommate thought his hairspray was his spray deodorant and couldn’t put his arms down for three hours. But let me tell you, if it happened to you, it wouldn’t be funny. Also, your arms would be tired.

I’ve personally had three girlfriends abducted. Most recently, a girl I was talking to at one of DeKalb’s fine taverns was abducted. We were getting along great and she asked me what I did, so I told her, “I write for the Northern Star.” Then she excused herself for the bathroom, where I think she was abducted, because I never did see her again.

DOINK-DOINK. Michael Jackson. The Chicago Cubs. That “Facebook” Web site. [Insert your own joke here]

DOINK-DOINK. Ah, spring in DeKalb – the intoxicating scent of freshly mown green grass, the whispered poetry of the breeze rippling gently through the newly-leafed trees … and, of course, temperatures plunging into the 30s at the start of May.

At least there’s one positive to the unseasonably cold temperatures at the start of this week. The cool air seems to have kept that peculiar spring farm smell from descending on the campus. I don’t know what, exactly, is in the fertilizer the local farms use in the spring, but I’d wager (a) it isn’t rose petals and (b) I’d be mad if I ever got any on my shoe.

DOINK-DOINK. Another semester done already. Thanks for reading, especially to those of you who’ve e-mailed me with your own thoughts. And good luck to you seniors. Two kernels of wisdom to leave you with: 1) Socks. I know you haven’t worn them these past four years, but unlike your teachers, bosses are funny about them. And 2) If you’re ever in a jam and don’t quite know what to say next, remember … DOINK-DOINK.

Columns reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Northern Star staff.