Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? Man, I loved those things when I was younger. I only owned one, but I read it to death. I tried to figure out every possible story combination in the book (I wasn't very good at it).
It seems my literary life has now come full-circle. I'm writing Choose Your Own Adventure stories. Sort of.
Part of my job is drafting jury instructions and interrogatories for trials. I've been working on a set of instructions and interrogatories for a couple of days and have decided that anything requiring more than about three interrogatories turns into a convoluted mess worse than any CYOA book.
The set for my trial starting Wednesday, for example, has one page (out of about 35) that reads something like this:
If you answered "yes" to 1, 2, 3, and 4, go to interrogatory 5. If you answered "yes" to 1 and 2, but "no" to 3 and 4, go to interrogatory 6. If you answered "yes" to 1 and 3, but answered "no" or did not answer 2 and 4, go to verdict form 1...
My sample text may not look too bad, but when you throw in multiple parties, multiple counter- and cross-claims, and the need to pare everything down to something an average person with no legal training can understand, it'll make your brain throb and your eyes bleed.
While I liked reading books with multiple possible outcomes, writing them is something else entirely. There are so many things you have to check and double check, lots of paths you have to follow to make sure they go where they're supposed to, etc. Plus, interrogatories about negligence and apportionment of fault are WAY more boring than stories about space adventures or exploring ancient pyramids.
I never would have guessed that my life as a lawyer would lead to CYOA-type writing. But I think my seven-year-old self would be proud.