Monthly Online eZine  
News And Views For Working Writers

 INside Scoop
 IN Her Own Write
 Pen IN Hand
 Write On!
 Screen & Stage
 Top 10 Resources
 Book Reviews
 Items Of INterest
 Global Offerings
 INside Services
 Bill The Bard
 The Writer At Work
 Games & Puzzles
 Classic eTexts
 Free Software
 IN Banners
 Who's IN
 What's IN
 Editorial Calendar
 Join IN's Team
 Contacting IN

IN Front Cover


Learn To Be A Better Journalist

Buy Classic Literature Collections

Acclaimed Screenplay Writing Software

Books On How To Write Fiction

Become A Well Paid Travel Writer

Vote daily and raise our ranking!

January, 2008

Greek Ghosts

Outdated Laws Or Plot Twists
Fact or fiction?
By  Helen Dunn Frame

Recently a friend emailed me a list of allegedly outdated laws he discovered when surfing the web. At first I was simply amused but then it occurred to me that a number of these could provide fodder for plot twists and a zany column. It reiterates that writers need to be constantly on alert for angles.
For example, one lingering law states that in the city of York in England it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls if he is carrying a bow and arrow. In a romance novel taking place in this wonderful city, couldn't a character carry this weapon on the way to a game or party and get shot? At the trial, a clever barrister could cite this law in freeing the guilty defendant.
If the locale of a story were in London, someone - either a member or a spectator – might  die in Parliament, which for some reason is supposedly illegal. It is difficult to believe this has never happened. Hasn't someone ever suffered a heart attack? If the law was known, did the coroner claim the decedent died after being removed from the sacred halls? A murderer could transport a corpse stuffed in pieces inside a suitcase unbeknownst to a cab driver in the City of London , another no-no.
Have you noticed how often directions in appliance manuals contain prohibitions that most of us think are obvious? Usually this means that someone got electrocuted in the bath tub while using a hair dryer, for example, and the company was sued. Following this line of thought, supposedly in Alabama it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle. Duh!
In an attempt to verify the information that was sent to me, I searched on "outdated laws" and variations on the theme on Google and found tons of listings. On the BBC News site, it confirmed that in Lancashire, England, no person is permitted after being asked to stop by a constable on the seashore to incite a dog to bark. Could this happen accidentally in a novel which leads to the discovery of a body?
While I didn't take the time to research the entire list, it occurred to me it might not be necessary for fiction because one could conjure up his or her own peculiar laws to fit the plot. Consider these humorous examples that might be real and that can be expanded to spice up your creation.
1. "In France it is forbidden to call a pig Napoleon." In a children's book about animals, this would fit in superbly. Or, you could do like I've done and name one after your former spouse because they both have big ears.
2. "It's an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down" on an envelope. Was I guilty of inadvertently doing this when I lived in England?
3. "In Ohio it is illegal to get a fish drunk." Supposedly one can still drink like a fish!
4. "In London, Freemen are allowed to take a flock of sheep across (the) London Bridge without being charged a toll." It would be interesting to find out if it is legal to have livestock in London in the first place before using this in a novel.
5. "In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on Sundays can be jailed." What if the character in a short story or book were trying to crash a party a la James Bond?
6. "In Kentucky, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon more than six-feet long." Does that mean carry on one's body? Are we looking for giants? Might this work in a fantasy or science fiction book?
7. "The head of any dead whale found on the British coast is legally the property of the King: the tail, on the other hand, belongs to the Queen (just) in case she needs the bones for her corset." Again this would fit in a romance novel set in the era when women wore corsets.
Once you stopped smirking, did you start conjuring up how these obviously frivolous cannons, all probably created by male lawmen simply because women weren't a part of the legal community back then, could add spice to your story? I'm eager to find a place to include some even if just tongue in cheek – like this column.

IN Icon

Helen Dunn Frame. A Syracuse University journalism school graduate, published in major newspapers, magazines and trade publications in the United States, England, and Germany. Her writing skills and love of travel led her to write her mystery novel Greek Ghosts. Email: Web site:

Sign Up and Use Our New Forums! Voice Your Opinion! Discuss Our Content! Ask for Writing Assistance. Post Your Successes, Queries or Information Requests. Collaborate with Other Writers.

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049

IN This Issue
High Expectations
Outdated Laws Or Plot Twists
Getting Publicity
Rushing Work
Marketing Books To Libraries
"I" Isn't In
Writing INterruptus
Photos Increase Sales
Background INformation
Writing Trade-Outs

Support IN
Receive Free Gifts
$20.00 Voluntary Contribution
$35.00 Voluntary Contribution
$50.00 Voluntary Contribution

New Novelist Software

Effectively Manage Your List

Writers Digest 101 Site Award

Your Ad Here

Traffic Swarm For Writers

Hottest Books This Month!

Whose Books Are Turning Into Movies?
Bald Ego
Mouse Over To Pause

Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

Our Own Banner Rotator System
Any banner seen below is either our own or one of our members.
Support the cause - click a banner.

Want Your 468x60 Banner Above? It's FREE For Newly Published Books

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049
All Rights Reserved. Copying in any way strictly forbidden.
Our Disclaimer Is Based Upon McIntyre's First Law: "Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."