Dear Mr. Schaeffer,
I am a young female attorney who wishes to escape the law by writing a bestseller. I’m not a very inspired writer, but I’ve heard that legal thrillers are very easy to write once one discovers the proper “concept.” My search for ideas led me to a friend of a friend who is an editor. Over lunch at Morton’s, he told me that the legal thriller genre is “tapped out.” He suggested I write either a self-help book or, if I have the ability, a manual explaining how to win at tournament chess.
Unfortunately, I’ve never played chess. And I’m terrible at helping people, which is one of the reasons I want to escape the law. Frankly, I was really counting on writing a legal thriller. Do you have any ideas?
Signed, Troubled in Tarrytown
Your problem is an easy one to diagnose. You are clearly not fit for the law, but you are also not fit for writing. Thus your initial instinct was correct. You should write a legal thriller.
It doesn’t matter what any one editor thinks. The history of publishing is littered with the refuse of editors’ wrong opinions. What you need to do is separate yourself from the thousands of other lawyers who are also hoping to escape the profession by writing a legal thriller. Their unpublished novels all undoubtedly begin with a murder that just might have been a suicide. An alternative opening may involve a very large sum of money that has just gone missing. Turn the genre on its head by beginning your legal thriller with a wedding. At the conclusion of your thriller's wedding, there should be a murder. Some will think the murder just might have been a suicide. Either the bride or the groom, whichever is still alive, should make the discovery that a very large sum of money has just gone missing. Your “concept” is as simple as this.
Be sure to write at least 2,500 words a day. In only a month and a half, you’ll have a good-sized thriller.Stick to the plan and you’ll be hobnobbing with John Grisham before the year is out.
Your friend, Evan Schaeffer
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