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The “V” Defrocking - Even Priests Get Due Process

Granted, the science fiction show “V” isn’t big on realism, but they committed a giant honking clunker last night when they showed their priest character getting laicized the day after he made a speech against the alien Visitors. The plotline is that Anna, the head of the Visitors, got to the Catholic Church in Rome by offering to let them send missionaries to their ships. The idea of so many new converts was appealing, no doubt. But her deal was that they had to stop priests from speaking out against them. The whole purpose was to stop one activist priest who is onto their lizardly nature and dastardly plans.

So our hero priest refuses to be cowed, makes another speech, and the next day he gets a letter that he’s been laicized. The elder priest who hands him the letter demands his collar. Bam! He’s no longer a priest.

I’m sitting there smacking my head. What the heck? As someone who was raised Catholic (lapsed), I know that they have rules and procedures for everything. They move at a glacier’s pace on any major decision. Remember all those pedophile priests they couldn’t get rid of? There’s a reason why.

So I looked it up. It took me about 15 minutes on the great wide interwebs to find out how a priest is legally defrocked. The writers could have bothered

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Fairly Legal is Unfairly Inaccurate About Mediators

I try to give all the new legal shows a fair chance. So when I started watching Fairly Legal, the new USA show, I was really hopeful. USA has a great track record of developing shows I enjoy. In fact, I think I watch all of their original shows: Burn Notice (one of the best shows on TV), Psych, In Plain Sight, White Collar, Royal Pains and Covert Affairs are all season passes on my TiVo. So I thought, yay, finally there will be a fun legal show I can watch.

The fact that the show has a mediator as its lead character made me really excited, since I’m a mediator, since I talk about mediation in The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers, and since the only other show with mediator characters I can recall is Wedding Crashers. When I teach at writing conferences, I always talk about underutilized characters in the legal system that writers can utilize to get away from the old typecasting. Mediators have great possibilities, so I encourage writers to use them in their stories.

The characterization was pretty good, and that’s what USA is particularly good at. They develop interesting characters with interesting backgrounds and make them funny. Fairly Legal started out so well – the mediator was the victim of an armed robbery and she negotiated a resolution that was a win-win for the robber and store owner. Fantastic!

Then it went utterly off the rails. The mediator is a former lawyer who works for her now-deceased father’s law firm. The wicked stepmother is in charge and clients start abandoning the firm the day of Dad’s funeral. The firm’s in trouble, and one of the firm’s clients is about to walk away from a deal the firm negotiated. Wicked SM wants our mediator to mediate the client back on track. In the meantime, a judge who hates our mediator appoints her to mediate a case he thinks is a waste of time. Okay, so far not so bad.

Here are the top ways this story went into lala land:

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Using the Law to Enhance Your Sci Fi, Fantasy and Romance Story

You have to build a whole new world if you’re writing sci fi, fantasy or horror. That world will necessarily have laws. And you’re the one who decides what those laws are. Thinking about the law and how it applies to your world will open up possibilities, provide inspiration, and make your story more believable.

If you think about it, you’ll realize the law touches everything your characters do, especially in sci fi. Their alarm clock went through customs and is regulated. Does your sci fi protag buy an experimental alarm clock that runs on nuclear fusion? Their cereal box has legal requirements about how contents are listed and what claims it can make. Does your horror or fantasy hero change into something non-human after he eats cereal contaminated with a mysterious chemical?

Pharmaceutical companies have to test their drugs extensively before your characters can take them. Companies handling hazardous materials must dispose of them in particular ways. Your characters might lose a friend or relative if someone doesn’t follow the law. Or maybe the whole world changes because something deadly was set loose.

Anything that can go wrong for your characters might end up in court, or have already been there. You think the law doesn’t affect your sci fi character? Think again. Here are some ways sci fi, fantasy and horror stories are affected by the law.

Civil Rights: --more--  Read More 
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Using the Law to Enhance Your Romance Story

Romance writers frequently tell me the law doesn’t apply to their stories. Yet the law is everywhere in romance. If you start thinking about the law when you write, it can be used to enhance your story, flesh out your characters, get you unstuck, or even inspire you.

Let’s talk about some ways the law might impact your romance novel.

Background/characterization: Your characters come from a background that affects the way they view romantic relationships. If the characters’ parents are divorced, the nature of the divorce could color their view of romance. Was the divorce contested or amicable? Traditional or collaborative? Juno is the first time I’ve ever seen collaborative law used in a story, and it was used correctly. Collaborative law is the hottest trend in family law, so it might apply to your romance story.

Current lifestyle: If your characters are divorced, do they have custody or visitation? Is it still in court? The terms of divorce determine how much money they have to live on, when they have the kids, what property they own. It’s important to think about how the terms of divorce affect your characters’ daily lives. If it’s still in court, do they . . . more  Read More 
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10/9/10 Writing and Publishing News

Which lawsuits are killing books? Which comic strip was banned for the punchline "Where's Muhammed?" Are picture books going the way of the dinosaur? Is it plagiarism or your perfect mate? These and other writing and publishing headlines are in this week's Write Report.
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9/20/10 Writing and Publishing News

How did Google post an embargoed book? Why can’t you get library books on the Kindle? Why free speech isn’t free when you pull a crazy Koran burning stunt. Plus, the real reasons why you were rejected. And 12 people who are changing publishing. These and other writing and publishing headlines are up at The Write Report.  Read More 
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9/13/10 Writing and Publishing News

Which prime minister’s lawyers think fictional affairs are too close to home? How did the Pentagon turn a book into a bestseller? Plus, why you’re not too old to write, and why bestsellers are choosing to self-publish. These and other writing and publishing headlines are in this week’s Write ReportRead More 
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9/6/10 Writing and Publishing News

Why is S&S accused of violating campaign finance laws? Which writer's fan got him horrid publicity? Why is the bankruptcy clause in your contract worthless? Is an author-formed collective a good idea? These and other headlines are in this week's Write Report.
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8/31/10 Writing And Publishing News

Which major reviewing publication is accused of discrimination? Why the Wylie deal with Random leaves the issue of who owns ebook rights to older books unanswered. And how writers really get paid with traditional and real publishing. Plus, I'm interviewed on preventing workplace violence. These and other headlines are in this week's Write Report.  Read More 
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In Entourage, Ari Gold Should Have the B**** Arrested

If you’re following Entourage, you’re familiar with the latest plotline where an agent left Ari Gold’s talent agency along with a bunch of tapes of his inappropriate comments. And if you know anything about the Ari Gold character, you can just imagine that there were a ton of inappropriate slurs, jokes and disgusting comments. Frankly, someone should have sued his agency for sex, race, national origin, and sexual orientation harassment long ago. But my sympathies here are with Ari, and the whole plotline is making me squirm.

That’s because the agent taped the conversations illegally, and this is one of my pet peeves in commonly used lazy plotlines. California, along with 11 other states, requires two-party consent to taping, meaning all parties to the conversation have to agree to be taped. Otherwise, it’s a crime. The tapes wouldn’t be admissible in court other than the criminal prosecution against the illegal eavesdropper.

It’s probably too late for this plotline, but what I think Ari should have done  Read More 
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