Tonight from 6:30 to 9:30, I am beginning a course titled: Basics of Writing a Novel. Here is a short description of the course:

From the first spark of an idea to the final two words, “The End,” writing a novel is a creative adventure. Learn how to enhance your ideas and develop your own fictional world with Patricia Burroughs. Discussion will include characters, setting, structure, dialogue, emotion and more.

I confess, I am looking forward to the class and I hope I do better than my French I and French II class. (You might recall that in my French II class I was voted the least likely person in the class to ever speak French.)

I don’t think I will be the next John Grisham or Scott Turow, but  if I write a novel, it will be about the rise and dramatic fall of a law firm.

I already have a plot idea. You MUST keep this a secret, so that no one else steals my ideas.

The first chapter begins the night before the four founding partners will meet with the Justice Department in Washington, DC. The firm’s survival depends on how that meeting goes.


How did the firm end up in the cross-hairs of the Justice Department? One of the founding partners, the nerdy one named Brian, was lured by Madeline (Maddy), the beautiful, married 45-year old general counsel into helping a client, NORNE (spell it backwards to get the idea) to help NORNE commit fraud.

Madeline had no real interest in Brian, but she needed the law firm to support what NORNE was doing. When the gig was up, Madeline spilled the beans on Brian and the law firm to get a reduced sentence.

The four founding partners were law school classmates. They graduated in 1972. They went their separate ways and got together and started their firm on 1978. The firm they started then has grown to 400 lawyers.

The four founding partners could not be more different. The only real thing they share in common is their work ethic and their desire to make lots of money. They share no other core values.

Brett played football in college and is still in great shape. He works hard, and parties and gambles harder. He has been married three times, each time to a woman in her early 20s. His two daughters by his first marriage rarely see him. They really don’t want to see him, since his third wife is about their age.

As previously mentioned, Brian is the nerd and looks the part. He is a really, really smart guy. He is the most power hungry and most greedy of the four. His main focus for sometime was increasing profits-per-partner. His work for NORNE generated substantial revenue for the firm. He potentially faces criminal charges for his role in the fraud.

Boyd is the third founding partner. He is a straight-laced Baptist. He has never smoked, never consumed an alcoholic beverage and never cheated on his wife.  He looks down on Brett, and cannot believe that Brian got the firm into the mess it now faces. He talks behind their backs.

Ok, that is enough background. You know that I can come up with all of the ideas on my own, but I would like to hear your ideas. If you want to help, here are some tasks:

  1. Provide a name and describe the 4th founding partner. How is he different than the other 3?
  2. Which of the characters should be the protagonist? ( It could be Brian, Brett, or Madeline).
  3. Which character(s) will change in our story and how will he or she change? (I can’t picture Boyd changing, so I am leaning toward Brett, especially if he is the protagonist. It could also be Madeline if we focus on how she was sucked into her company’s fraud).
  4. Where should the firm be located? Where should NORNE be located?
  5. Where did the 4 founders go to law school and where did Brett play football?
  6. What is the firm name (the last names of each of the founders)? Which partner has which last name and whose name is first on the letterhead?
  7. What is Madeline’s background? How did she end up at NORNE?
  8. What kind of fraud was NORNE involved in and what role did Brian and the firm play to get themselves into the mess?
  9. Why did NORNE need the law firm to support what they were doing?
  10. Describe the outcome of the firm meeting with the DOJ.

I will let you know how my first class goes tonight.