Have a seat. I take it you've written a book?
Yes. It's about a whaling ship. The captain is obsessed with taking revenge on the whale that bit off his leg, so all he cares about is finding that whale. The rest of the crew--
Whoa. He's trying to locate one specific whale? In the ocean? Do you know how big the ocean is?
Yes, but this whale is white.
So is a rabbit, but I wouldn't want to try to find one specific rabbit knowing it was somewhere in Asia. See, that's an analogy.
Yes, I got it. The quest for the whale is symbolic. It's--
What's the title?
Christ. How long did it take to come up with that? Did you bring a chapter?
Of course. I think you'll find--
Quiet, let me read . . . Call me Ishmael . . . ? Is that your name? Ishmael?
No, I'm Herman.
He's a guy on the whaling ship. The Pequod.
And this is your hook? Call me Ishmael? Why wouldn't they call him Ishmael? It's his name. Now if he said, Call me Izzy, that would make sense.
Trust me. You need a more memorable opening line. How's this, off the top of my head: Fucking whale!
I don't think--
It's perfect. The reader immediately wants to know how could anyone be angry at a whale. He reads on, discovers that the whale bit off the guy's leg. Now he's hooked. Whale versus man.
What I don't get is how the whale bit off just one leg. When your mouth is ten feet across, it's hard to open it and take in one leg but not the other. It's like trying to eat one grain of rice off a piece of sushi.
A piece of what?
I think the whale should bite off both legs. And his torso. So the guy's just a disembodied head chasing . . . this whale got a name?
You're joking, right? Sounds like a porn star. Whatever. I didn't like this at first, but I've changed my mind. Head chasing Dick. It's symbolic, see? I'll buy it. No need to make the changes; I'll take care of it. How soon can you--
See you around, pal.