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Friday, December 11th, 2009

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Latest Wright's Writing Post
My beautiful and talented wife has another entry in her bounteous supply of advice and tips to writers and would-be writers.


One advantage of being married to a authoress / editrix is that when I am out of ideas for my novel (which is frequently) she is fruitful with ideas to make up the defect.

She speaks here of what she called the "two strings technique" which is, in every character have a personality trait that goes against the grain of all his other traits, in every scene have each event trail side-effects that increase the tension, have every solution foreshadow a next and deeper problem.

Even in role playing games (for those of you who serve as dungeon-masters but not out of modules) drama can be increased merely by making sure each character has two things in his life that contradict. This is particularly easy to do in something like WORLD OF DARKNESS or DICELESS AMBER, where plot-conflict is built into the structure of the game. It is simple. Have the player character be assigned by King Oberon to guard the Grand Pattern of Amber or something. Merely having the player-character be told by his mother, Princess Fiona, that she will blow his brains out through the back of his skull by sheer psionic willpower if he does not cooperate in smuggling his half-brother Judas past the dungeon guards and onto the pattern: and then be told by his father Prince Benedict to expect sudden death via swordblow at his hands (one metal, one flesh) if anyone -- but especially that bastard Judas son of Caine whom Benedict has particular cause to hate -- sneaks past the guardpost and onto the pattern. Then have both parents warn him not to tell anyone that they are secretly married, such incest being strictly against Oberon's law. Then have Caine visit the character on a moonless night and start asking prying questions about his parentage. You see how it works.

Of book, characters in books can be put under a lot more pressure than role-playing players, and their two (or more) plot threads can pull them more vehemently in opposite directions, because book characters cannot up and quit the game when it gets discouraging. "OK, you are playing Frodo! You have a magical treasure of epic power! Your mission is to destroy it! And the only place to destroy it is the Dark Land, a landscape which looks like its partway terraformed to match the surface conditions of planet Venus! And the Dark Land is guarded by hordes of Turks and goblins, giant spiders, and deathless wraith-kings, and their Sultan is an archangel of Hell, who is disembodied, invisible, malign, and is also a necromancer -- and he can attack your mind from here. Boromir betrays you! He is twice as tall as you and nine times as strong. Roll your saving throw!"
"But for Wales?"
Reprinted from KGBMan's blog. Comments below are his. I am merely sharing the bad news:

15 Catholic Senators voted against the Nelson amendment.

Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2009 / 06:29 am (CNA).- A total of fifteen self-described Catholic Senators voted to table the Nelson-Hatch-Casey Amendment, which would have significantly restricted abortion funding from the Senate health care bill.

The Amendment failed by a 54-45 vote on Tuesday. It was co-sponsored by Democrats Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, who were joined by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Senator Nelson is a Methodist, Sen. Hatch is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Sen. Casey is a Catholic.

Besides Sen. Casey, Sen. Ted Kaufman of Delaware was the only other Catholic Democrat to vote against tabling the Nelson Amendment. Sen. Kaufman replaced Sen. Joseph Biden when he became the Vice-President of the United States.
I'm reminded of something Fr. Corapi once said: "The USCCB says there are approximately 65 million Catholics in this country. If there really were 65 million Catholics here, then this country would be far, far different than it is today."

Many people - including many Catholics - don't understand why it is appropriate to deny communion to people who are visibly not in communion with Rome. They call it "politicizing the Eucharist." I suppose it could appear that way if you're looking at it from a purely this-worldly view. But denying communion to a public sinner is the best thing you can do for the sinner. The same goes for excommunication: it is meant to awaken the sinner to his true condition and hopefully spur him to repent, confess, and do penance.

For the record, I would absolutely ask someone who was visibly and vocally not in full communion with the Church to refrain from receiving our Lord for the sake of my own soul, but most of all for theirs.
Peter Watts Legal Fund
Sf writer David Nickle writes of Peter Watts' beating and arrest, and asks for friends, fans, and colleagues to help. I am not a friend, but I am a fan and colleague, and I certainly think the man needs the best legal representation he can afford.

I am disabling comments for this post, because I expect some readers will be tempted to speculate about the guilt or innocence of the parties involved, and I regard such speculation as unseemly. If you want to express sympathy, the most pragmatic way of so doing is to contribute to Mr. Watts' legal fund (the whimsically named the Niblet Memorial Kibble Fund) which is Here.

(Hat tip to John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow where I first heard of the arrest.)


This is David Nickle :

Hugo-award-nominated science fiction author Dr. Peter Watts is in serious legal trouble after he was beaten, pepper-sprayed and imprisoned by American border guards at a Canada U.S. border crossing December 8. This is a call to friends, fans and colleagues to help.

Peter, a Canadian citizen, was on his way back to Canada after helping a friend move house to Nebraska over the weekend. He was stopped at the border crossing at Port Huron, Michigan by U.S. border police for a search of his rental vehicle. When Peter got out of the car and questioned the nature of the search, the gang of border guards subjected him to a beating, restrained him and pepper sprayed him. At the end of it, local police laid a felony charge of assault against a federal officer against Peter. On Wednesday, he posted bond and walked across the border to Canada in shirtsleeves (he was released by Port Huron officials with his car and possessions locked in impound, into a winter storm that evening). He’s home safe. For now. But he has to go back to Michigan to face the charge brought against him.
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