After a summer clerking at a public defender’s office during law school in 1994, I knew I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney. At first I was shocked by the factory-like process by which fellow citizens could lose their freedom if no one aggressively stood in the way. Or even when someone did. The human stories also attracted me – the too often ignored reality of how things come to be one versus another. I’ve been practicing criminal defense ever since – most often serious felony cases in Virginia and in Washington, D.C. Throughout this time I’ve always written stories, usually half-finished, unread versions that would sit hidden on a laptop. But it took me years to understand how a complete story even works. What I have learned is that a story works much like a court case. Both involve a narrative. Both have characters in various roles. Both are supposed to end in a way that makes sense – satisfying or not. Both often fail. But in both law and fiction, the narrative arc, whether one likes it, hates it, or is merely bored by it, must be there.