HH Com 21

When the caller says, "Clean up whatever that thing is that washed up on the banks of the Ness," Clive Fulton's first thought is no different from anyone else's.


When "that thing" turns out to be a decapitated plesiosaur, more people watch Clive's press conference than watched the moon landing.

"Where is the head? What did she look like?"

"Top scientists confirm this is not a hoax."

"Then, Mr. Director, who is investigating? Who will track down the Loch Ness Monster’s killer?"

The police are clear: As Director of Commercial Services of the Unitary Highland Council, local dog catchers report to him. Commercial Services cleans up road kill. "There’s no crime. Not a police matter. It's you, Clive."

(you have me right up till here)
With the reluctant help of the local librarian, Clive takes a crash course in criminology. As he closes in on the face of the Loch Ness Monster, he uncovers one local family's dark and arcane history, encompassing bathing circus elephants, a mother's betrayal of her daughter, and film producer Billy Wilder's unlikely inspiration for sending Sherlock Holmes after the British Navy by way of Loch Ness.

When the evidence is in, Clive discovers he has become the sole, unwilling custodian of a centuries-old secret whose power will force him either to bring the head to CNN on a platter, or to join the ancient ranks of the Gilgamesh, Gospel, and Beowulf authors, who took their personal sacrifices to the world's secret history, and made from them anonymous gifts of mythology.

I have no idea why a librarian of all people would be reluctant to find out more about an actual Loch Ness monster. Every librarian I know would be lacing up their Keds and flinging "closed" signs on their office doors and hustling off to help.

Then of course you fall smack into weird ass supposedly enticing dark secrets. Well, dark secrets stopped enticing me in 1981 when it turned out Bobby wasn't dead at all.

And then you turn what could have been fun into some sort of advanced literarture course.

Replenish your word hoard and try again.


Anonymous said...

oh the shower!!!

The storytelling of Dallas still holds up today!

Jim Winter said...

"Well, dark secrets stopped enticing me in 1981 when it turned out Bobby wasn't dead at all."

He's not? Next you'll tell me Anakin turns to the Dark Side in Episode III.

Anonymous said...

I lasted a paragraph longer than Miss Snark. I LIKE the references to bathing elephants and Billy Wilder. A lot. But the mythology stuff seemed out of place here. I suspect it seems of a piece with the story as it develops over tens of thousands of words, but the attempt to convey the essence in 250 words made it seem tacked on. I'd start reading, though. Of course, I'm the guy you see in the glass both midway through the Holland Tunnel, not a publishing professional, so consider the source.

Anonymous said...

This pricks me in a particularly sensitive place - Louis B Meyer was a producer, Alexander Korda was a producer, Jerry Bruckheimer IS a producer.

Billy Wilder was one of the very finest DIRECTORS that ever lived, and he would have smacked this author in the kisser for getting that simple fact wrong.

Anonymous said...

This sounds cool. I'm hooked. I agree about the "reluctant" librarian, though. Sometimes sidekicks are eager to help. Think Willow and Xander in the Buffy series.

HawkOwl said...

"Clive Fulton." I don't know why, but that's funny. Other than that there doesn't seem to be much going on here.

Anonymous said...

Fix this bad boy, cause I want to read this book someday!

Anonymous said...

This is soooo out of this world. I don't like the word "anomaly." Especially used in the same sentence as "spatial anomaly."

Bernita said...

"word hoard"
~kisses fingers to Miss Snark~

Anonymous said...

You had me until "custodian of a centuries-old secret" which tripped my Da Vinci Code clone alert.

Jeeze, I hated that book. On the other hand maybe you're a better writer than Dan Brown. Lose everything after that point and make it a comedy...with lots of librarian sex.

Anonymous said...

"prank" thats it I give up on you!

Anonymous said...

I think that sounds like a really enjoyable story.

I hope the author sticks with it.

Benja Fallenstein said...

Hi author #21,

I'm with Miss Snark on up to where you have me. Interestingly, I thought the references to Gilgamesh et al were one of the more interesting ideas in what follows -- I understood them to mean that there's some huge conspiracy-or-something going on that silences anybody trying to reveal information about 'magical things,' forcing anybody who does want to talk about it to go anonymous and disguise the information as myths.

But, as I say, your last two paragraphs don't work for me, either. My problem with them is that you give us random mysterious stuff instead of a big picture, and I think that in a slushpile this usually doesn't work at all. (It may work on a dust jacket, but the difference is that I think the reader trusts the publisher to have chosen a story that makes something good out of these pieces. The person reading the slush pile, on the other hand, wants the author to show them that this submission is not crap.)

So I think this would work better if instead of giving us unconnected details like the elephants, and generalities like unspecified "secrets," you told us something hard and clear about what Clive is about to find out. (Don't worry -- your agent is unlikely to be disappointed if you give away your startling revelation in your query letter ;-))

That's just my opinion, of course. I don't channel Miss Snark.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks everyone.

anon film term parser: yes, his legacy is as a director. On Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, he was producer, director and writer. Producers get top title credit, do they not?

benja f.: Clive is going to discover that the Loch Ness Monster has, since Cairn-builder times, been the Forest Gump (not, Dan Brown basher anon (I think DVC is crap, too), the Holy Grail) of Celtic Island history. Clive's decision will have to do with whether he wants to preserve Nessie's mythic prestige, or demote her to PT Barnum freak show. A romp. And there is my replacement paragraph?

Thank you, again, Miss Snark.

Stuart Neville said...

To Face Lift 142 @ EE, the author of this hook...

I was the anon movie term parser above (I made my comment when I wasn't logged in) and I feel I owe an apology for being unduly harsh. The "smack in the kisser" was a particularly poor choice of words - I had been trying to play on Wilder's notoriety as a curmudgeon who held producers in low regard, but I just came across as rude. I'm sorry about that.

I'd forgotten I'd made this post until I was making a comment about the Crapometer in my own blog, and suddenly remembered this clumsy remark that I'd made very late a couple of nights ago.

Anyway, yes, Wilder was writer, producer and director on almost all his movies, and although he famously considered himself a writer first and foremost, it would be correct to call him a director rather than a producer (he only did the producing because he didn't want anyone else interfering).

Out of curiosity, is Wilder a character in your novel? If so, that would be very cool!

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the reply. No sweat about the comment.

Yes, (Director!) Wilder will make a fictionalized cameo appearance. We will see him during the sinking of his monster prop.