There's another word for “research for fiction writers.” Procrastination.
So this morning, I was almost ready to write when I figured I needed two more pieces of information before I could begin.
The first one was to find out what you call a lawyer in the United States.
In Denmark, where I grew up, they are called “advokater.” But I've heard them called lawyers, solicitors, barristers, attorneys and more in English.
I didn't want to anything to confuse me while being creative, so I figured this would be my first task. Therefore, I did a search for “what do you call a lawyer.”
That Was My First Mistake
Most of the results were links to joke sites… I had to read a few and I guess that detour lasted about 15 minutes.
Cough. Back to serious work. I finally found the answer on WikiPedia. Pro tip: Start with WikiPedia, not Google or Bing.
Good. Done. Now to name the guy.
First Names for Lawyers
Very interesting. I found that there's a pattern for lawyer's first names. “John” is a winner name. So if you're expecting a son and you want him to grow up to become a lawyer, that should make a nice choice.
Interestingly, it was far from the only name that also serves as a nickname. We also have “Richard.”
I went with “Michael” which I found more subtle.
This only took me… dunno, another 15 minutes? There were some interesting comments on that blog post. I especially liked the one by Sarah (married to David), both lawyers, both names on the list.
Finding My Surname
My first idea was “Meyer” but I found it too much of a stereotyped name. Then I thought of “Smith” but found it too ordinary. So I thought that now that I was doing research anyway, why not look up a few lawyers?
I found a lawfirm in the neighborhood of my hero and there – among the lawyers – one was called “Onest.”
Of course I couldn't help imagining the lawyer in different situations, like the following:
“Hi, I'm Onest. I'm a lawyer.” I bet that can break the ice even at a party at the “Shy and Introverts Club.”
But eventually, I found my surname as well and was finally, after only one hour, ready to write. Which I didn't.
Research for Fiction Writers – Best Done Outside of Writing Time
My process for writing a novel (or in this case a novella) is that I come up with the idea, find the characters, create a rough outline (8 to 15 points), and then on the day I write, I detail outline the scenes beforehand.
The detailed outlining normally takes me from 30 to 60 minutes, and then I'm ready to write. Since it took an extra hour today, due to my
procrastination research, I didn't feel like writing anymore. Of course, a deal with myself is a deal, so I wrote 16 words.
But really. Do yourself a favor and do all the research you can do at other times than when you plan to work. Otherwise you end up – like me – no longer feeling like writing that day. And yes, I know I should have pushed through and written anyway, but I'm ahead of my schedule, so I could allow myself a non-writing day.