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Law School Is Good Training for Novelists, Lawyer-Authors Say

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

We're halfway into November, which is also National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as fervent fans like to call it). So what better time to remind you that earning a law degree is good for more than just practicing law -- it's also excellent training for becoming a novelist.

There's no shortage of lawyer-authors in the world of fiction. John Grisham and David Baldacci are two notable examples, but they aren't the only success stories.

Writing a book, fiction or non-fiction, takes an enormous amount of time and dedication. But there are certain skills that help in the writing process.

Many of those are skills that most of us learned in law school.

For example, studying law teaches you to consider contingencies and possibilities for every scenario.

This constant study of "what if" is very important for creating a nuanced piece of writing, according to Stephen Carter, a Yale law professor and author. Seeing all the possibilities makes it easier to craft a compelling story with twists and turns for the reader, Carter told a recent audience, according to the ABA Journal.

Law graduates also know how to question rules and morality, says author and attorney Scott Turow. Learning to consider all aspects of an issue and craft a persuasive case for either side is a big part of creating multidimensional characters and plots.

In addition, a lawyer's skills in crafting a good case for a jury are very similar to the skills needed in crafting a good story for a general audience.

A legal background is also a unique benefit, as the public loves to read about legal cases. Legal issues are often sensational and engaging in and of themselves, but it requires some talented writing skills and knowledge of the system to turn that into a believable novel.

This doesn't mean that writing a novel will be easy for any attorney. The process is still difficult and time-consuming. But don't think your law degree was a wasted effort: It may help you turn a new page with a new career as a novelist.

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