Chris McGowan (.net)

I’m not sure if Jane Espenson would claim she came up with the term “Clams,” but I’m attributing it to her.

Clams are basically cliché story moments, particularly TV moments.  Amongst Jane’s great writing advice, she always aims to find and eliminate any clams in her stories.

I’m sure her, and many other writers, have their own databases of these clichés.  But I wanted to start my own.  Feel free to share yours either here, send me a Tweet (@magoogs) or email me, chrismcgowannet@gmail.  I’ll add them to this growing list.  I’ll tag these all as #clams so we can always find them.

And this one starts us off.

Clam #001:

There’s a mysterious badass villain (could be a hero too) in a helmet.  They usually are riding a motorcycle.  ”He” comes to a stop, post-kicking ass, and takes off the helmet.  Zoom in on the reveal that… it’s a GIRL!

Chris Watches… Broadchurch Episode 3

Dad has a lazy eye, just noticed.

So we’re at the halfway point of which I think I’ll have figured this out.  Again, I predict I’ll know the killer by Episode 6, and we’re at Episode 3.  Let’s go through the new round of suspects.  I’ll be starting an ACQUITTED list too - those people who I believe… nay, I know, are 100% innocent.

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This was outside my building, at 7am, a few days ago.  This probably doesn’t even capture the true volume.

Beyond the Neverending Valley (of Ellsworth and Umbrage)

A story in parts

By Chris McGowan

Part 8 (of 13)  ** Midnight release edition

The sun was nearly gone. The bright blue sky of the day had scrolled past the horizon revealing the slow introduction to night.

But all was not dark in the Palace of the Most High Ellsworth and Most Taken Umbrage Kingdom. Candles were lit, lights switched on, activity aflutter. For a knight was to save the day and find Princess Linda.

King Tomas and Queen Guinevere walked out onto a small palace balcony that overlooked the rest of the surrounding kingdom.  Off in the distance, they could see the trees that marked the beginning of the Neverending Valley and the path where their daughter was last seen.

A trio of trumpeters at the ground level walked out into view and hoisted up their shiny brass horns.  They began to blare the infamous tune, “A Knight to Save the Day.”

People from all over the kingdom had gathered, watching from vistas, treetops, opened windows, horse-drawn carriages - the news had spread and everyone was concerned.

The King cleared his throat, took a few steps towards the edge of the balcony and picked up the Royal Amplicone (it’s basically an acoustic megaphone, like the one cheerleaders in the 1930s would use in our universe).

“Citizens of Ellsworth and Umbrage,” he shouted into the amplicone, “as you know, the Princess, Fair Princess Linda, our daughter, has not returned to the castle, and night hath fallen. So, as the Sniffing Hounds were unsuccessful, we’ll send the… bravest knight in all the kingdom to bring about her safe return. Sir Cravatte de Rouseur of the Mountain Top Community of Quint.”

Not that there usually was applause or cheering under these sorts of conditions, but heralding a brave knight would seem to be an applause-worthy moment. Yet the crowd was quiet, for Sir Cravatte was an imbecile and a fool and everyone across the world knew it.  But Sir Cravatte had wealthy parents (they were into silk and silver), who were friends with the King and Queen, so hence he was labeled “brave” and “most wise” even though he was neither.

Sir Cravatte waddled out from beyond the castle wall, his long leafy blonde hair whipping in the wind. His silver suit of armor was much too large for him, so he looked as though he was on the verge of being swallowed whole.  One steward followed behind with his equally large helmet, while another steward brought out a trusty steed, one bred for such rescues.

Tomas turned to Guinevere, the amplicone away from his face.

“Dear, you are sure about… Cravatte?” he asked.

Guinevere hesitated for a moment, but then said, “The de Rouseur’s are our friends. If we gave this task to any other knight, it would mock and shock their family. It has to be… Cravatte.  Besides, he’s in the Scroll.”

Tomas nodded, although the thought “that damn scroll,” rolled through his mind.  They both turned back to watch as Cravatte was slowly being shoved onto the back of the horse.  Cravatte had so little athletic ability, it would appear as though he was intentionally trying to fall off.  Eventually the other steward joined in to help hoist and stabilize Cravatte on his horse.

Once Cravatte stopped slipping this way and that, the steward handed him his ridicously oversized helmet.

“i will find your daughter” a tiny voice from below called out. Everyone leaned in - they couldn’t hear Cravatte. Another steward ran out, clutching another amplicone to hand to the knight. Cravatte held up the large end to his face and talked again, but at “I”, the volume of his own voice was so loud that it caused him to wobble some more and nearly fall. He turned around - small end near his mouth - and spoke.

“I will find your daughter” he bellowed, now having over-compensated.  The aid took the amplicone back and returned to the palace walls.

Cravatte straightened his back and looked over at the 11 in Blue, and the 10 Sniffing Hounds in their cells, all eyeing him from afar from their outdoor prison.

“And I will find the missing Hound, so he may serve his sentence.”

Cravatte carefully turned to look at the horse wranglers behind him.

“And I will find the missing horse… pony… thing.”

He then turned to face straight-ahead, towards the Neverending Valley.

He kicked the horse into high gear and off he went. An enormous spotlight turned on, shining on Cravatte as he rode off atop his horse towards the woods.

There was silence as everyone watched him ride away.

A low-hanging tree with even lower-hanging branches was a bit further down the path.  Guinevere closed her eyes tight, making a quiet wish that hopefully Cravatte would avoid it.

Cravatte rode and rode. Closer and closer to the low branch.

“He will swerve, right?” the king asked.

“Yes, dear,” Guinevere replied, albeit unsure.

Cravatte rode and rode. He was already sweating, barely holding onto the reigns, his helmet turning askew with each bounce.

The kingdom kept watching him. A few short gasps could be heard from the crowd as Cravatte rode further away and closer to the low branch.

He rode.



Closer to the branch.


Almost aiming for the branch.

A voice from below finally cried out, “Look out Cravatte!”

But it was too late.

Although he was far away, all could still see him. And being far away, they couldn’t hear him crash his head into the tree branch, but they could see him flail and fly off the back of the horse and onto the ground.


Everyone watched him roll around a bit.  The horse wandered off and slowed to a stop as he laughed (the horse thought this was quite funny) just before the forest edge. Cravatte eventually stood up then woozily fell down again.

Guinevere turned to someone, “Turn that spotlight off!”

The spotlight turned off.

“And someone go get him! He can barely stand!” she demanded.

“That damn scroll,” the king said, this time out loud.

To Be Continued…

Part 1 here:
Part 2 here:
Part 3 here:
Part 4 here:
Part 5 here:
Part 6 here:
Part 7 here:

I love time travel.  I like it even more when it doesn’t quite work out.

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My name is Chris McGowan, LA-based and Chicago-born writer and actor.

I say things, write things and make things.

I pretend to be other people and create other worlds.

It's going to be all here.

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