I don’t know much about the law. Other than the obeying part, I’m guessing most people are like me. Sure, movies, television, books, newspapers, and other media give us snippets of what it’s all about, but nothing deep enough to represent yourself in court.

In one section of my next book, something happened requiring the characters to take legal action. I knew what I needed in order for the story to unfold, so all I had to do was find it through research. Using a few of the legal terms I sort of understood as my key words, Google was my first stop.

There’s a great deal of legal information available, and much of it is dummied down for the ordinary citizen. Essential forms and step-by-step instructions for certain legal petitions are online, and there are many articles explaining things. Having said that, even though the information was simplified still didn’t mean it was easy to understand.

Exactly what I needed for my story was tough to find, but I did the best I could to make the writing sound legitimate. Then I moved on, fairly satisfied everything worked. My editor, however, wasn’t so sure. She questioned what was being done, how it was being accomplished, and whether the amount of time for the action was accurate.

She’s a great editor, and I respect everything she challenges and corrects. The problem was I didn’t know how to fix the legal stuff because my knowledge base was so limited. That’s when I called my attorney friend, who graciously offered to check over the scenes in question.

The next day, my friend and I spent over an hour on the phone, straightening out the errors I had made, which were many. In the end, I needed to rewrite all of the scenes in this section, but it was okay. What my characters were doing and saying would pass inspection.

If your book has mistakes in it, someone will find them. Let that someone be you. If you don’t know how to fix your mistakes, try phoning a friend.