A quick look at the bestsellers list for commercial fiction reveals that lawyers are well represented in that exclusive group. John Grisham and David Baldacci are exhibit A and B. Often even law students find success. John Jay Osborn wrote the novel Paper Chase (which was turned into a critically acclaimed movie) as a third year student at Harvard Law School.
There are a few important reasons that lawyers make good fiction writers. As a fellow attorney and writer, here are the five that I think help the most.
1) Lawyers are Curious.
Curiosity may kill the cat, but in the legal profession, it separates the average lawyers from the very good ones. The great lawyers know what questions to ask their clients and when to ask them to get the information needed to provide the best counsel and offer solutions.
As a fiction writer, you need to constantly ask yourself questions. Why did your character do X? Why is the plot set in Y? What happens if you try Z instead? Often your first inclination on how to write a scene or character is boring and predictable. It’s only after asking probing questions that you find an alternative that takes your story to a higher level of sophistication and interest.