June 28, 2021

10: Logs, trees and beats


What's a log line? How are they useful? How should you do them? These are all questions we really should have considered before recording a podcast about them. But as you'll hear, we get through it ok and actually find it really useful in the end. Plus, look out for an exclusive "arboreal narrative" reveal from Jon and the real highlight of the whole episode; Dave trying to be cool by making sounds like he's about to swallow a wasp.

Music by Dano Songs
 

Transcript

the failing writers podcast three blokes going i'm really good at writing but i've just never had the breaks stick to the script please i can say what i want i'm not getting paid

well wasn't last week's episode brilliant no it was rubbish it was brilliant i can't remember what it was what was last week's again it was best wasn't it oh no in that case yeah it was bright yeah that was brilliant it was good it was brilliant um but we did i don't know if we should get straight into it because we made a promise didn't we that we would do something yeah we had a task now we've we need to ask the question um so should we go straight into our log lines because we were going to promise we'd do some log lines didn't we yeah we did promise we'd do some log lines but we need to ask the question first have you written anything oh that question that question uh the big question yes uh a little bit go on yes the book uh a word yes a little bit of that and i don't know what i've actually been busy that i thought a little bit of the book a little bit of a log line and um i did an entry for um a writer's room or a tv show what which i sort of saw at the last minute this thing popped up online saying this tv show called sorry i didn't know um it's like a panel show was looking for it was like an open call for submissions to get like have a week in their writer's room oh cool um so i thought i'll have a go at that so what did you have to produce in order to uh show off your wares yeah so you had to just do like a little you had to put like a little why do i want to do this which i always think is the hardest question because um like the reason i want to do it is just because it'd be something nice to do but you have to what do they want to hear yeah exactly yeah somebody's doing it and also probably there's a little bit of you that's like do i want to do it i don't know exactly yeah i don't really want to do this but it's summer in the meantime whilst i get to do the things i do want to do uh so uh dude like why do you want to do this tick uh here's a cv not much on it tick um and then you have to write an intro for the host to introduce the show and just three jokes just random jokes just jokes about um history so the show is about sort of history specifically sort of black history um so yeah i'd never heard of the show before but um now that i have heard of it obviously if i do get through it's one of the best shows that's ever been on whatever channel it's on and after all the careful research that i've done yeah exactly um what's it called again sorry i didn't know well you should you should probably find out dave i should do shouldn't i yeah um sorry i didn't know that's not your fault john you weren't meant to win dave should be finding out what it's called you should have applied tom what sort of show is it sorry did you already mention that is it it's a is it it's like a panel show it's a panel show that's what i assumed yeah yeah it's a bit sort of q-i-ish sort of thing um but it's mostly sort of centered around uh like black and people of color history so it's history with a touch of color very cool

yeah it didn't specifically say that middle-aged white people couldn't ask her so

i mean you may not be their top choice i'd be amazed i would be astonished at the complete lack of quality in the rest of the world if i managed to get do you think it helped it but you saw the thing last minute and had to kind of pile on for a deadline yeah it did because i sort of saw that and i was there were other things that i wanted to do and normally i would sort of take a bit of time over it and put way too much thought was this i was like right i'm just going to do it um so just tap it all out in the online entry form but i'll have a little bit of it first thing i come up with that's what i'm going to do um so yeah let's see that is a good idea or not yeah yeah well done well gotta have a go on yeah exactly it was it was writing and i there you go it's all good practice yeah yeah what about you thomas you're asking me do i get him i get him first yeah i um have uh yes i've been tinkering tinkering away with my silly little sales book yep just going through the motions yeah just going through the motions just editing struggling to take anything out that kind of thing but i did i did hit on a little bit of a follow-up idea oh yeah what always put me off really of of doing that was um that there's nowhere to go from it it's kind of a completed self-contained thing which i know is ridiculous yeah and also you're going to kill him off so yeah is he kind of thinking that there's no there's no sequel there's no um but then i was thinking actually well why not and um came up with some ideas of uh sequel books that could be similar but different yeah so um because i think everyone would get sick of that main character anyway yeah um because he is so kind of ott um but to kind of mix it up so you could have from the same publisher sort of thing yeah yeah yeah like a science book that's just full of half nonsense science it was meant to be checked by these oxbridge professors but they were on holiday so they never got around to it so this kind of guy has just written this science book and it's all about it it's just slippery she's a bit of a conspiracy theorist or something yeah yeah or maybe like a a book on sports coaching where you've got a similar character that's kind of telling you their life story of how to be a great coach and it's just all this absolutely terrible advice or possibly my favorite is a cooking book version of it so you've kind of got an amalgam of like the hairy bikers two fat ladies nigella delia all these kind of people mixed in yeah and this and this pair of foodies that can't really agree on anything one of them's all like jamie oliver bish bash boss whack it all in there oh lovely put a bit of that and get some of that in and the other one's dead precise and wants it all and there just kind of a bit of a clash yes and they come up with these horrendous recipes and things that just i like that taking traditional cultural recipes and just completely ruining them and insulting different cultures from around the world and just not ready i like so i think yeah i like that actually bizarrely gave me like a real i thought i will get this one finished then yeah there's a way out i like the the idea of the sort of sports coach who is constantly saying if if only i'd been taught this when i was a kid i would definitely be a professional footballer no it's not my fault

yeah yeah yeah he'd just be a constant failure but somehow kind of grabbing out i like that idea tom yeah you could write a lot of uh drivel on sports psychology i can't i can write dribble with the mic i can do that yeah i can knock that out endlessly that's good tommy i like that so i mean we could have a yeah so it'd be like the silly the silly little book series yeah pathetic silly little book series i like it so that's that's what i've been doing so you see but you have effectively eliminated uh your reason for not doing the one book that you have finished haven't you like that thought oh well i shouldn't do this because i can't do anything after it well now you can which is a stupid thought in the first is really honestly the obstacles we put in our way for no reason whatsoever it's but it feels like uh because i really enjoyed writing it um yeah and that's not after all some writing is just enjoyable yeah and some writing is kind of enjoyable but it's hard work and that's fine because it should be you know when it when it's you've got complicated plots and things like that like the novel and sort of thing worthwhile is easy tom there is something nice about just having something you can just splurge into yeah yeah it's also a strange it's a strange feeling of satisfaction when you overcome an obstacle that was entirely of your creation but for some reason just seemed rock solid and immovable yeah and in reality you're only at the same place you were before you invented that obstacle but somehow it feels as if you've got further down the track conquered the bloody world mate well get it published the world is my oyster and peanut butter as well featuring the uh cooking one yeah so now but i mean the downside of that is i appear to now have um four or five books that i need to write so i don't know how well yeah that's kind of getting get it are we calling the first one finished no well he needs finishing um but other than that it's been finished for a while now no no it's not it's not like ready to it it needs going through editing and yes precise editing doesn't it yeah yeah yeah but it's there's nothing else to write in it if that makes sense i tell you what i saw the other day was people um sort of touting their wares as uh proofreaders and editors online uh either of you guys ever sort of considered that you know you get some so far in a book and then thinking i'll send it to like a an unconnected third party to get a bit of editing and proofreading done i actually think that's a brilliant idea i um i was listening to a podcast the other day about exactly that that it's really worthwhile especially if you're independently publishing to send it to you know an actual editor uh because obviously if you're publishing yourself you don't really get anyone going through it carefully and making suggestions and uh it's very hard to be objective isn't it as we as we all know but uh yeah yeah i think i would definitely do that um i think i'm not sure how much use it would be with this book this kind of format yeah where it's uh a bit weird and very humor-based and kind of a bit off the wall i suppose but you can put the sort of you your terms of engagement down can't you just say to someone look all i'm all i'm looking for is a completely objective opinion to make to look for i know proofing errors and that sort of thing and just to make sure that they're enough yeah and also yeah i mean there are obviously proof readers and um editors that work on specific kinds of books as well so if you look for somebody who deals with little pathetic books you know you're right yeah yeah yeah there must be some around that work in that genre yeah yeah yeah you're probably right yeah i think it's a good idea so john what about you uh yes i've i have been writing i finally finished uh the short story that i started uh mike is that the short story that kept getting longer yes it is exactly that yeah it's about 10 000 words which is still short right wow longer than it was originally meant to be but uh yeah i can't even remember when i started that i think i started that is this part of the love series that's it exactly that yeah yeah yeah another like short love story i mean it needs it still needs work but it's it's finished you know round one is finished yeah yeah great it's like uh well i'll tell you what it is it's uh it's basically like a love story in fast forward if you can imagine that it is it's the lives of two people this is gonna sound weird it's the lives of two people seen through the eyes of a forest if it were possible for a forest to pay attention that sounds like a high concept doesn't it it is it's very high concept very low end product is what it is lofty ideas terrible shortcomings sounds like the kind of thing where you need to get you need to get it made for netflix but by scandinavian netflix or something that's right exactly i mean it is classic rand i'll be honest with you but yeah but it all came from reading about how trees communicate with each other yeah through the root system that's right using these mycorrhizal networks beneath the ground they should call it treemail shouldn't they it sounds like email but it's about trees look at that yeah i got a bit i got a bit obsessed after reading uh uh you might have read the over story by richard powers oh is that one about trees that's the one about trees yeah it's all about dreams and uh yeah i thought i was thinking you know if if trees are able to kind of sense their surroundings in ways that we're you know only really just beginning to understand then maybe if you push that idea as far as it'll go you could maybe argue that forests aren't just like a group of like separate individual trees they're more like one big interconnected consciousness if you know what i mean get a bit deep here

yeah exactly like a big brain so so it's kind of a fantasy in the sense that i don't really believe that trees can think in you know in a way that humans do but this you know there's definitely more going on there than we realize yeah thought it'd be quite interesting be an interesting challenge to find a voice for a forest and think about how they how they would perceive people presumably like in super quick time like whizzing around time as well i was gonna say that yeah yeah yeah and it so it sort of lent itself to a short story but you know it's one of those things it's like it's i sort of got to the end of it and i was just rereading it last night and i genuinely have got no idea if it's any good or not it sounds really good does it really i mean if it's if if it's as good as it sounds like it should be then yeah did you do a log line for it john i might do a log line for you a log line

but i was i was wondering whether to record uh to like record a little audio book version of it um like i did the other ones but then i was thinking i'm not sure i can be bothered because so few people listen to them but then i thought maybe this is an opportunity to say uh to our massive listenership does anyone want to hear it and if like a certain amount of people come back to me say yeah i wouldn't mind hearing that then maybe i could be the same amount

yeah very low i don't know 10 still feels quite high

yeah if nine people get in touch on twitter or or email or facebook yeah i could be bribed just anything anything communicate through the trees if you must

the sad thing is if you only need nine but me and dave are not interested so you still need nine because that would have made it seven of those yeah but you're right yes so you still do need nine yeah and my family don't count by the way because i don't know okay fair enough maybe there's some trees listening um yeah they would like that you know they would like to because their roofs go right under our house yeah oh yeah or if someone's absolutely listening everywhere a massive lime tree someone's lying in the sun listening to this on their earpods and they've fallen asleep and the vibrations are going into the roots of a tree yeah so if you're a if you're a tree get in touch get in touch uh and see if you want to be denigrated by john's pathetic description of your communication methods well that's that is very interesting that john because i think if you'd have said to me and dave hey just before i tell you what this love story is about see if you can guess i don't think we would have done no not for a long time oh it might have taken a while yeah that's good i think that's good i'm sure i've got that long left to live that i would ever have guessed that's where that was going but it's quite exciting that we've all written something isn't it i'll tell you this podcast might be generally rubbish from the outside but for us it's kind of working isn't it yeah exactly yes sometimes yeah well yeah get in touch then if you are listening get in touch and beg john to read out his his tree book um yeah and how do they do that birdie well they can email they can email sorry go ahead john yeah no i was gonna say they can email at writers podcast gmail.com yes they can do that or they can get on twitter at failingwriters or they go that you can sign up to uh to get updates at our um our website failingwriterspodcast.com which is now that's a new thing or you can just uh wander in the park and gently whisper to the oak tree in the corner it'll get to us eventually they will communicate we'll all hear it in the end oh here he goes again with his bloody assumptions about human cognition yeah yeah what's that oh yeah yeah yeah you're the most intelligent beings on earth oh yeah yeah of course you are of course you are you silly hairy trumpet-eared freak

so that's we've done quite a long way of describing the things we've been working on maybe it would be a good time now to switch to the short version so yeah log lines we're going to talk about log lines yeah i do that i have done a little bit of research but only a small amount so i looked at a site called screencraft.org they who say apparently a log line should be between 25 and 50 words if it's too sh shorter than that it's technically a tagline right that sounds long 50 words it sounds long form up to 50 words mine's 37 so that's good i didn't even read that dave oh brilliant that's exactly right yeah so too short and it's a tag line so attack john's the tagline

so tagline is like a sort of pithy advertising message like in space no one can hear you scream it doesn't actually tell you anything about the story but it's a good message whereas a log line should tell you what the thing is about but if it goes on too long it basically becomes a synopsis yeah i agree i think i think the log line it's it's like a truth isn't it it's a core truth yeah that at any point in your story or the book or whatever you should be able to look at that and go yep that's true that's right yeah it's still doing that and there is a kind there's a sort of formula to it isn't there you need a strong protagonist they need to have a clear goal and and kind of a reason why it's going to be particularly difficult for that protagonist i'm a little bit worried that you t's i just thought this is quite good it's only two sentences i can just do my homework quickly you two seem to have kind of done some research so i'm hoping that somehow yeah our mind will just fit into these as kind of like kind of natural instinct sort of thing rather than yeah yeah yeah you're an advertising kind of guy you know what you're doing yeah mm-hmm yeah a lot of people mention that there needs to be ex like what what people call the irony of the log line right did you get that bad i'd you've done different research to me like i said i did very limited amount of research pretty much pretty much centered around how many words i should be writing down

any old words will do yeah how many just need this amount of words um i think what it mean what i understand well what i think i understand from that is that sounds like you've got a very firm grasp yeah very very obviously protagonists need to have some sort of flaw right so the thing that they have to do is directly making their doing it more difficult because of their flaw if that makes sense right so our flawed protagonist wants to do this but when this thing happens things that conflict entirely with their way of life uh happen and [ __ ] gets complicated that's sort of the yes okay so if it's a if it's a comedy you should be able to immediately see where the jokes are coming from and if it's a drama you should be able to see where all the excitement comes from it's like you know instantly as soon as you read it because you can see where the the issue is with that protagonist trying to do this particular thing because it's obviously going to be difficult for them so example like jaws would be the police chief who is afraid of the ocean do you know what i mean yeah okay that's the sort of the the kind of flaw and it just so happens that he looks after an island beach community and uh you know a giant killer sharks starts to attack the islanders but he has to take to the sea to kill it so he has to overcome his floor to that's it exactly so you've got to see the the irony in the floor so that's so you're saying that because i thought that's like a good thing to have in your story but you're saying that should come through in the log line is that what your reason good log line that's what i was reading some log lines don't have that but in order to really get where

you should read a log line and then go all right yes uh-huh i can see what there's no there's no tease to it really there's no kind of like but i'm not really going to tell you this it's it's uh yeah yeah you should be able to start having ideas straight away yeah that's a great line that's it isn't it you have five minutes to rewrite yourself are you right oh yeah it might take a while now i have to rewrite the whole you've got the right number of words didn't you so that's i mean that's the main i'm pretty sure that's the main thing like basically sorry i basically did a reset i was just going to say what is yours on mine is on the what i've been calling spooky war book um oh yes and has it got a working title yet by the way uh the 11th of the 11th oh nice yeah um yeah that's what i think it should be called so yeah all right right i'll just read out that what i've written down what i've got in bold here um because i really struggled with this um and i'll sort of tell you why afterwards but what i came up with was in the build-up to a small town's remembrance day parade the spirits of the fallen help a bullied young cadet avenge the murder of the great war's last surviving soldier which i thought sounded quite sort of dramatic and sounded like a good story the problem with this whole exercise is that it has highlighted the deficiencies in the actual book that i've written because i came up with that that's what it was supposed to do yeah yeah and then i thought but that's not actually what the book is about like all of that the good bits happen in the last chapter of the book and now i'm thinking the rest of it is just a bit like waffly what happens if you take the protagonist at the beginning of that log line so who's who's the main protagonist in it uh it's the bullied young cadet so a bullied young cadet and what do they do sorry well uh what are they what are they trying to do what are they trying to achieve what they're trying to achieve is um survive and get through to the sort of remembrance day parade um but they're they're they get bullied and they're like they have their oh god i don't know you probably shouldn't i should know but this is like even as i'm reading this i'm thinking there are so many things wrong with the rest of the story that i've got to change because the i think the exciting part the good bit of it is the idea of dead people coming back to life and like helping yeah you know the people in the now yeah i like that but you're right that's like the payoff isn't it that's sort of yeah yeah but it has to be about that character doesn't it yeah so he's he's basically just trying to get through what one day or like a week on the right yeah one day so it's it's like the build-up to the parade but yeah the these these terrible people are sort of you know i mean he nearly dies a couple of times yeah yeah and is he is he trying to in some way like uh bring back the dead himself or that they just happen to they're kind of watching and they're kind of they're kind of watching um but like so basically these bullies steal his cat badges which he needs for the parade um and he ends up talking to his great gran who gives him his great uncle's badge from the war and he there so he starts to learn about the war stories of his you know other people from that town who died and he ends up with these badges from two different people um and in the end like their sort of spirits uh come back and help him in the sort of the ending but i just think there's far too much of the build up about this kid losing his badges um i feel like the like everything i've written so far should just be a sort of you know opening thing and then the meat of it is like currently just the last chapter um that should be a much bigger part i think yeah yeah get to the actual yeah the story yeah but all the way through i've been trying to avoid uh stopping writing what i'm writing until i get to the end and then i want to get to the end of this and then i can go back and change these things um yeah but like doing this exercise has made me think about the mega deficiencies in what's come so far um and it's making me really dread the second draft because i think it will be uh i will have to cut a huge amount as terrible as that is that's that's very good though isn't it it's going to improve the great outcome once it's done yeah it's just a pain yeah yeah yeah it's just it's a long process because like i said to recap this is sort of reworking something that my dad had already written yeah definitely dad's fault mate yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah exactly so uh you should have done this

so yeah but uh but that's okay i think all of these things that make you like i just i was just writing that log line i thought that sounds good i'd read that but i wouldn't read what i've written so far but you enjoyed the book that your dad wrote initially i did i did there's got to be something in it you know yeah yeah it's definitely the core of something there absolutely it's how it might not it might be that that crosstalk line isn't completely correct in terms of the perspective the framing of it no i don't think it is i don't think what the challenges are of the protagonist yeah can help making that protagonist may be more active in it as well that was that was the big issue with uh the second book that i wrote it just he my protagonist had you know he's just completely passed stuff happened to him rather than yeah that was it it was just it was and it was awful because of that yeah and it was only really in the writing of it that i realized that yeah and you know that advice is in every single book about writing that you read yeah and yeah i totally ignored it not deliberately until you got to your library book group and the and the lack of town but you know that's but that's that's the whole point of doing these things isn't it is to try to sort of refocus your mind and um quite interesting though isn't it doing the log line there's kind of the two things of doing the log line when you've on the finishing stretch of a project it's a dangerous thing to do because of that and it either says yes you got it right or oh you missed some stuff but it goes to show how important it is to do it up front as well and be happy you know say yes it might changes your writing and things might move a little bit but it does that kind of i think you mentioned it the other week a few weeks back there about an author that would write two or three chapters or whatever and then would do the log line and have that as the kind of the yes this is what so that got that gets printed out and stuck right in front of them yeah yeah so everything they do um like has to reference or come back to it exactly like i said it's the truth isn't it so yeah whatever you refer it back to you go yep that still works that's the truth yeah but sometimes like this it's good to do an exercise because i don't think that the log line isn't sort of right but sometimes it's good to do exercises that not necessarily tell you exactly what you should be doing or what should be there but helps you to identify what shouldn't be there if you see whatever yeah yeah and i think that's what this has done it's not necessarily like gone okay this is what the final object should be but it certainly told me okay shouldn't be that and it shouldn't be that yeah well that's good so it was helpful again

it's been helpful in creating a lot more work for me um so that's but in the end it will produce a better product maybe almost almost maybe well yeah so there's mine what about yours insert name of next person um so uh i did a log line for the show that katie and i are going to take to edinburgh oh definitely yeah cool um would you like to hear about that i had to do a lot of negotiating by the way to uh because katie was like you know you can't share that one because people steal our idea yeah right they'll take it to edinburgh first i was like katie i don't think you understand how many people listen to this podcast let's be honest if you're listening to this show as the source of ideas for your writing career then you should probably just pack up and go home so uh so this is it's called the title is the happy marriage show and the log line is two sanctimonious married psychologists host a live interactive lecture about what it takes to have a successful marriage while their own is falling apart at the seams hilarity ensues well that tells us well you can see the yeah you can see the conflicts yeah you can see the see where the jokes are coming from yeah yeah i might steal that and do it myself yeah that wasn't much better than what i had yeah you shouldn't have told everyone that john someone's going to do that but yeah we are right it's almost as if john you've done some research and then followed that research to produce something quite good how many words was that though john it sounded didn't say it sounded like it's got the 20 22 23 mark was the i can't remember what it was now it was the camera it should be between 25 and 50 according to screencraft.org there mate never mind nice try well yeah i think that works oh it's 23. i just counted that oh there you go i bloody guess that right in that sense i'm still uh it sounds good though it does like i can you can see a lot of stuff to be done with it yeah where that's going yeah yeah i think so and i think the whole sort of ted lecture thing you know there's lots of tropes yes it's a good format as little station to kind of run things off and then you've got the marital conflict wrong you've got you've got the two layers of the outward projection and then the inward kind of little glances and glare gripes stabs and yeah yeah and it's always good when you when there's people telling other people what to do not doing that themselves yeah yeah and marriage is one of those things you know i've been reading books about marriage um which actually been quite useful in some respects but i've been reading about uh yeah how to have the perfect marriage you know i mean there's so many books out there but it's a risky book to write though isn't it that's exactly what it's gonna say if you're married it's written by couples and you just really want to put a camera in their house and see how they really get on yeah they're just miserable but they can't get divorced because that would be perfect massively in their career i'm going to add that to my list of sequels for silly little books but yeah i think i think it's um we're having a lot of ideas about it and i think that's always a good sign if you're uh yeah coming up with lots of ideas but yeah absolutely it's been good i've been enjoying it so what's the time scale for that in terms of what getting it actually performed you mean or performing it yeah yeah someone is there is there an outside chance you could actually get divorced before it happens an extra layer to it cause that really wouldn't it that would be good for press release definitely you would have to frizz on to the performance wouldn't it you could get divorced and then get married at the end of it is it sort of pr stunt yeah get legally divorced and then get legal i'll mention that to katie after okay has been talking about divorcing for age she's on board with that mate every time i see her she's like oh i'm like ah stick with it but this time might be the time to press the button

yeah it would be a good pass don't though it would it would yeah so there brilliant wow great guys yeah yeah that sounds really good if only it was like two words longer and we should also say tickets are still available and actually it doesn't matter when you're listening he still will be available tickets are still available great thomas wow i didn't actually do any research i just thought i'd write some stuff so um i thought while i'm since i'm in the process of doing the heavy editing on my uh yeah sales book that that would be a good one to do just to kind of like you say it's a good uh yeah it would make sense and balance this thing isn't it check if it's all still true um so here we go the world's worst sales guru gives what he believes is the best sales training advice ever he thinks he's an inspirational visionary but he's just making himself look like a bigoted tit because he's a bigoted tit i think that's pretty good yeah it really it actually gave me quite a because i was thinking when i'm going through the editing and i feel like i'm not really taking that much out because it is all bloody good really bloody good stuff um so this just confirmed that i am right it is um absolutely [ __ ] hot stuff yeah um it all makes sense all follows the log line bob's your uncle go it's finished then thomas see you see you at the top of the new york times bestsellers list yeah but no it's it is in the same way that dave realizes he's he's messed his entire book up this is like the other side of that where it's made me feel that i haven't you absolutely know that good thanks really thanks thanks for that heartfelt how many how many words was that then god you're obsessed with words

so that's where research gets you boys

isn't it highlights your uh your inefficiencies oh well that was good that though tom it came out quite easily as well so again that makes you it's reassuring isn't it yeah yeah it's like it's a good point i think it is it's the case that the best ideas are just really simple aren't they yeah yeah just bring them down to you know just a couple of very simple factors yeah yeah you've got one core again i keep saying it but it's that one core truth is yeah because mine took i just i was moving stuff about and fiddling with it there was nothing there was nothing that sort of just like left out and went this is what this is about um and i think that's kind of okay isn't it i think i am yet to grasp my truth so you're still yet to find them possibly so but in that sense what a great exercise

you're listening to the failing writers podcast brought to you in association with insert client name here do you know what i think might be useful there is for you to read uh take off your pants yeah that you two forced me to read oh because that does i mean that's just about uh sort of the structure of plot in a book and lining your stuff up against that will probably i think you know from what you said there'll be a little gap somewhere that you can kind of go oh yeah and it kind of just uh might bring out into the light of day rather than trying to see it as one big mush of a story that you're trying to yeah in the same way this vlog line has kind of filtered it out save me the hassle of reading it then tom and give us the summation of that book we should point out that this was a task we gave you a while back wasn't it yeah it was yeah yeah and i finally got around to it didn't actually take very long to read which was good because i don't really like reading um so that was nice what's it called again it's called take off your pants by libby hawker outline your books for faster better writing and it's very much about um i'm sure a lot of people listening will have already read this um but it's very much about writing kind of commercially so with with that in mind rather than just idly for your own benefit so it's it's about writing very sort of clean concise storylines that are going to keep people gripped yeah and it uses a basic ancient storyline layout of which there are a few but they all kind of conform to the relatively similar arc don't they yeah and it's really just about a system of defining each of these very separately and what was kind of upsetting worrying uh illuminating was i'd always thought that i was just a really cool flying by the seat of my pants writer and whatever planning have actually i actually do quite a lot of this stuff anyway there you go so i kind of do i kind of half got to the well as natural i do half plan well i think i think you said in an episode that you are a you're a bit of both in the same way that uh quivers that we into yeah well yeah yeah i guess i am but it's definitely worth the read actually yeah i'm not a massive fan of of books like this often because i think they can be a bit too prescriptive and it's very hard to people are very different can it take the joy out of uh the process yeah but i i see it i see this more as a safety net yeah unless unless you're trying to churn out 15 20 bucks a year yeah to sell them do you mean like you're just trying to get them out um because that's that's really what it's designed for is for you know cataloging and writing fast books good fast books that people want to read but i just think even if you're not of that mindset it's really good for having a sort of a fallback in an oh right yep that will work oh god yeah i've missed that out almost like a checklist so that you yeah yeah yeah yeah and she'll i'm because i can see why the book's been so popular and taken off it's uh very easy to kind of see the system really so i would give it a 7 out of 10. what i did find interesting in it actually was about the protagonist and the antagonist um she was saying that they both have the same goal the same goal yeah so like the christ in the end totally conflicting goals so that you can't have one without the other well no because if you if you take it an extra step back and i i think while i was reading i think i think i probably thought of a few things that wouldn't work for this but generally yeah so if you take it an extra step back rather than their immediate what they're trying to do their overall goal uh is often the same so like the christ in the antichrist you would say they are like diametrically opposed but they both want overall power of the universe okay yeah much like luke and darth vader both want to bring balance to the force don't they yeah but the but you would say they had opposing views in many respects that is absolutely interesting an educational read good wow do you think it will help in the writing of the book that you're doing at the moment tommy or you were saying that you you kind of do a lot of it anyway is there any particular thing that popped out that was like oh do you know what i'll i'll use that no i think literally the the clarity of the system in it i will be using that to re-run my novel like to use the same stuff that i've already got but to hang it on the right pegs in the right order on a sheet of paper rather than a weird flow chart diagram that goes across one and a half pieces of a4 half of it written in pen half of written in pencil some of it not actually readable and weird boxes around stuff so i can i can see why this is more of a long-term solution do you use the board when you are plotting are you like post-its on the uh index cards or whatever i haven't been i i have for this particular project um just just as a way to try to pull things together um but uh i think yeah it's really it's kind of really hard with this because like if you're starting something from scratch then i think that's a very different thing to like trying to work with something that already exists in a way you've got a really tricky one for that reason yeah really shouldn't have done this should i but i think actually once you've found what the core is what the you know that little diamond is that's that in a way that's your job isn't it well that was always always my hope from doing this was to try like it was like always going to be like a learning process so that once i've done this it when it came when i came to writing my own story it would just be really easy i'd just sit down and it would all just fall out because i'd learnt so much um so in that sense it's quite good but yeah i have tried the sort of you know index cards stuck to the wall color-coded thing and it can be helpful but only up to only up to a point yeah i think as tom said it's got to be a balance you know that can help you put the right things in the right place but you know you've got to it it's the stuff that goes in between that actually makes i think it's that thing though isn't it there's all this different advice out there about how to plan in depth or not plan in depth or half and half or do this or use cards or use post-it notes on the wall and then they go but everyone's got their own way of working you just want someone to come up and go this is your way of working yeah rather than desperately trying to find find the easy way for you to do things what is my way tell me do any post-it notes or not i think part of the problem is i've got terrible or just awful handwriting like really like worse than a child's handwriting but when i make notes and things i stick the stuff to the wall like i'm like i don't know what that says yeah what happens in this particular thing have you thought about any of the software that does that dave have you tried any of that what typing

that would help wouldn't it yeah it's computers you know now where you can put the words in yeah and it makes the words pop up in front of you and he can read it um no you know like the the novel writing software oh yeah that's kind of splits into chapters and yes and that and notes on stuff no that's always just scared me a bit because it's good too yeah i've always super planning yeah well yeah no because i've always thought if i'm gonna go i'm gonna sit down at my computer and start writing stuff on the computer i might as well actually be writing stuff on the computer yeah um there's something nice as well there's stepping away you can't really do that with a computer screen can you you know stepping away and looking at the bigger picture is really important yeah looking at i do like that i do like that being able to step back and look at sort of notes and just go oh i see yeah yeah yeah yeah but you know it's such a different horses for courses etc etc do you want a book i really enjoyed i was thinking might um might be useful i'm not reading another one

that's my one book because that's where this is dave's turn next uh i was thinking for baddie um is a a book called the science of storytelling hang on wait i think you've already given me a book don't give me anything oh yeah yeah yeah you're just like some kind of fascist librarian just like read this i tell you what we'll talk about another time but the reason i think it might be good what's the guy's name store someone's store they'll come to me he looks at why we tell story like he's starting from scratch he's looking at this this is using science basically to try to understand why the human brain is so good at telling stories and then he takes that information to help you to tell better stories but it's it's really good it's really good at getting to the knob of what it is that fascinates us about stories do you like a nub yeah it's really i think it's really good it's a brilliant read but it's also fascinating essential evolutionary thing though isn't it sorry sega mate the story thing it's like an essential evolutionary thing it is without a writing system that's the only way you can actually pass down yeah beliefs and information and societal rules and it's how we make sense of the world isn't it yeah it's like dogs perceive the world through smell and we construct meaning from events you know in order to survive yeah yeah from our origins most of the sort of uh archetypes of story you talked about the sort of you know the seven some people say the seven or some people say there's nine different story ideas most of them have a root in mythology in some way yeah greek stories or you know they're in the bible somewhere and that sort of thing i was just looking at something about that today um on an old whatsapp chat from from a film we went to see with a couple of friends and we were discussing it was the 1917 you know the oh yeah the one the one that's the yeah oh yeah yeah one that's done in kind of one or one shot yeah and um it just dawned on me afterwards that i i said is it me or thinking about it was 1917 just a reboot of lord of the rings because if you actually play it side by side in your head it it's actually really close so then we got in a little discussion about you know there's only seven plots and yeah uh my friend said that's under the quest category and then yeah a friend spelled out all the different ones kill the monster rag to riches the quest there and back again comedy tragedy and then he said a group of new recruits joined a police academy

yeah that's my favorite genre yeah yeah i remember that in the bible

well i always liked the apostle who did the sound effects yeah yeah jesus is like whoa hold on a minute there's a tiger like no it's not a tiger coming

that but that wouldn't really work because you're doing all these like do the noise of a phone or something and everyone in the ancient times helicopter what yeah is that nice what is that it's just a noise give it a thousand years about howl about this joke i know i wondered about that because for hundreds of thousands of years humans will have made noises with the mouse singing and things like that wouldn't they yeah you know and then kids go around making silly noises yeah so they will have made a noise like a trumpet long before trumpets were invented yeah there would have been people going they didn't go around doing that why did we bother saying i don't know just at some points almost thought i'm gonna invent a instrument that makes that noise that we already make yeah you think the noise is coming first the noise came the noise must have come first some kid going around going hang on a minute i've just had an idea but i don't think the noise came first literally everything that's ever been invented dave no until you can't invent something until the noise has been made i was about to try and do the noise of a toaster then i decided against it go on go on quite difficult that isn't it now go on how many how many slices that was two that was two slices yeah yeah yeah and was it on setting number three yeah yeah yeah yeah very good crossed but um thank you yeah not bad tune in next week for our guest the toast

the toast setting yeah i used to i remember i used to practice making sounds i used to practice doing sounds as a kid maybe it was how i ended up doing voices and that sort of thing but um yeah every time i saw somebody do an interesting new sound on tv i would have to copy it for ages there was one i saw was a guy who did like a um

noise and i remember spending hours like trying to work out how to do that and then copying it and it's never coming useful in any sense i've never been in this scenario where i thought if only i could imitate that noise well when this podcast gets recommended to loads of other people because of that noise yeah you're on some you're on a phone call then someone uses the line we need to pour if he's going to shoot everyone unless someone pours a drink no one's got a drink to pour wait a minute i've been waiting for this moment all my life any others sounds yeah uh yeah come on dave we're assuming you've got a repertoire this other one which is um

oh that was a lovely one that's very good i can see that was a difficult one because i learned that off rolf

right harris not like put not personally not personally he didn't this wasn't like do you want to see a noise like mike yeah um uh so but uh yeah troublesome now isn't it so what is what is that is that the sound of like water dripping in a prison cell or what was that it is yeah yeah yeah

yeah i don't um go on

i mean why'd you take it from there really though we're just trying to think what can we link to that i don't know it sounds like time for one of those little breaks doesn't it oh yeah it's going to be a little and then we'll just come back on the other side none of it happened yeah

if they were the a team tom would be mr t obviously dave would be murdock and john would definitely be hannibal i mean he really does love it when a plan comes together like really loves it don't mention sounds again no although do tell us if you learn a new one dave yeah if i if i come up with any new sounds i can't remember watching police academy must have been really stressful for you it's all right picking up the odd one here and there but having them all kind of all at once must have been like oh god i've got so much to do i can't come to school today i strongly suspect but you can beatbox can you ah no not really no only in a really embarrassing white middle-aged man like a dad yeah come on i really want to hear something now i can't i know just really quick mine i always i always end up putting silly sound effects in mine i like uh well that's good yeah but it's a good like

sort of fill in between um i always wanted to have i know i use i used to do it in the shower you can do really good beat boxing in the shower if you just put the shower in front of your mouth oh yeah and you've got a bit of reverb as well exactly yeah yeah yeah go on go on then oh shower i've got a pop guard in front of this mic so it doesn't work well can't you make the sound of a shower while you do your beatboxing that's a good idea look i'll edit that in afterwards i can't do beatboxing sorry i'll show up now i'll sit up i really want to hear it though

you have done well hercules but your quest is not yet at an end you must face one final trial but what is the seventh trial of hercules the seventh trial is um actually chaps i was thinking i could um maybe pick my own for the last one well well this is highly regular um but uh what do you choose well let me let me explain it like this

bit different

quite like it i just feel like i'm covered in human spittle now oh you need one of these my friend it's an ostrich feather umbrella

yeah what do you think am i immortal now or um i've got to go and kill my wife and kids oh i love these guys the failing writers podcast is so great so okay that felt a bit more convincing didn't it

many many years ago i came up with a theory that i think has yet to be proved untrue that you can take any popular song from the hit parade yeah and um it can be improved by putting it works on anything it has to be one in the hip parade like it couldn't be like sandman or something um i feel like that might ruin that song i don't know you say that but maybe try it in your own third time okay maybe maybe for next week i think you'll be fine yeah yeah imagine all the people

yeah interesting huh that is interesting i think that's a strong word for that little chat we've just had but it fills some time doesn't it boxing is one of those well it's one of those things that uh that seemed like a good idea at the time but on reflection were awful i was going to ask you if you've ever if you've ever anything that you've written which you were convinced was going to be amazing but then in the end it turned out to be just dreadful when you look back on it anything that springs to mind something really promising oh quite a lot of that you wrote and you were convinced it was great

but by the time it got to the point where you realized it wasn't very good it was already being made and you had actually sold it and then you just had like two weeks of excruciating pain of hearing it on air and you'd be you'd be so glad when the campaign finished oh yeah oh yeah it's such a fine line though isn't it like stuff that you you sort of write thinking that's really dramatic and uh anyone hearing that would be just caught up in the emotion of it but if you're in the wrong mood when you hear it it can be really funny and i did that once i wrote something and i i won some awards this thing it was like about bullying it was about this kid who was being bullied and he sort of hanged himself in his room and i played it to someone and they pissed himself laughing as they were listening to it they're like that's really good that's really like that's not a joke but then i couldn't listen to it after that anymore because it just every time i heard wow i was like oh that's actually that is quite funny but i did i wrote um i wrote uh i started trying to write a sitcom years ago and i was convinced it was great but all i really had as a starting point was a name um which was michael stanford grissom or msg for short and he referred to himself as the enhancer um and that's that's all like a great log line that is it dave like not really no and i've i struggled for ages trying to hang something around and i wrote it and i thought this is quite this is quite good and then i read it it's only like two months later and it was dog [ __ ] it was just absolutely dreadful it was as bad as you could imagine a sitcom based around a really bad pun name could be

that was the sitcom that needed a long line yeah yeah not just a name what he was um he was obsessed with uh consumer sort of watchdog programs so it's like this this young person who started his own like homemade version of watchdog um like interviewing local businesses because the only only thing i could connect with in heart is like she was trying to enhance your life how would he enhance your life like and it just but as i was doing it i was thinking this is great this makes so much sense i thought there's a lot there's a lot of like humor in the idea of a young boy trying to be like um you know what's annoying were you one on the kind of meditation dave at the time because it's got a disjointed kind of dreamlike quality to it i don't know i don't know why it was that i was just i think i just i just convinced myself that i could get that i could make something out of this and every new idea i had i just didn't really think about very much and just thought that's brilliant yep that's the way to go and then i just read it back as a whole and i actually finished an episode and read it back and right now this is at the time you read it back at the time away awful that was yeah it was this wasn't like i read it back a few years later this was like about a month after i finished yeah this is just terrible i i remember you wrote uh a thing like a thing about zombies attacking some friends yes in their house yes it was lovely really nice idea basically it basically got done like two years later sean of the dad effectively was what it was it was quite similar yeah um that was like a timing thing was like come on come on that's just not okay i've always wanted to sort of do that story properly but yeah it kind of the zombie thing like it took off yeah yeah yeah damn it that was a shame how if only i'd been any good at anything back then but no i still look back on that one fondly but yeah just a few things that was really good it was just good just dreadful have you guys never done that you've never had anything that you've thought i need to have a little think about that with my memory as you know without being brilliant i probably need to just have a bit of a dredge yeah um i can't think of anything and i think that's because i just uh maybe i'm slightly over critical to start stuff as well yeah every night maybe like it has to be a very good idea just to get going yeah to actually bother starting it which is i don't think is a massively healthy thing really because it means you don't find stuff that you wouldn't expect well yeah sometimes you go explore because that could have turned into something good it wasn't sometimes you've got to explore different paths to find something there are lots of cases of that where the the thing that finally gets released there's no resemblance to how it started but there's just like a little we've mentioned it before in a little seed somewhere in there yeah and if you don't explore that path yeah you'll find that seed but i think our um our guest next week talks about this doesn't he we've mentioned the fact that as he's gone through his career things that he had worked on in the past ended up being sort of pulled into his latest works yeah kind of like these sort of historical nuggets from work that he's done in the past and all kinds of different stuff that just kind of popped up oh remember me and and oh yeah i can use you and then a different it's like the seed of the idea but the idea goes off in a different direction than it would have done because of where you are now and what's happening and stuff yeah yeah i think well you've got to you've got to produce stuff for that yeah the case everybody feels like he's quite prolific because he's very like yeah he's just writing a lot of stuff isn't it a lot of ideas a lot of ideas if you throw enough stuff at the wall and you know some of it's going to stick isn't it um which kind is back to where we started really is that you know i've a part of me feels like i've wasted a lot of time in writing what i've written um but actually if it leads you towards a final product that's much better then it's it's not wasted is it exactly and as long as we're enjoying the process exactly yes that is the main thing so maybe that's a good time to to mention uh properly that next week we've got an interview with queef mcdonald and it is a fantastic institution isn't it it really is this is good he's a funny guy yes x stand up now writing yeah writing sort of funny crime dramas funny little crime books funny little crying books no they're excellent very good yeah and it's a fascinating insight into self-publishing world as well so yeah uh stick around people and listen into next week in fact click the subscribe button right now to ensure that you don't don't be afraid to tell your friends about this podcast you know i know you want to keep it to yourself it's that little gem you know it's that special little thing that we've got between each other but don't be afraid to tell your friends they they need to know too you know yeah kind of thing you can show off to your friends about though isn't it that's what you want to do you want to go oh you've been listening to the phone writers you haven't you haven't been listening oh my god you are kidding aren't you you're serious oh i hate you seriously you are a bad friend don't be the last one in your group of friends it's about 10 episodes catch up on them and then you can speak to me again that's how i play it yeah yeah they don't even need to be a writer i think if there's one thing we've established you know um over the past every couple of months this isn't necessarily just about writing or being a good writer it's totally not about being it's about weird little noises

all sorts of things well yeah so like subscribe sign up to our newsletter at the failingwriterspodcast.com do all of that and then uh here they are exclusive i can't say we are the only people who's probably done other interviews that are interviewing him yeah good point no one else that is us yes is interviewing him yes yeah so in that in that sense no one else no we'll be playing our interviews with queen mcdonald yeah yeah that is exclusive yeah and we've got loads of other interviews coming up so you know just just very exciting stuff and don't forget to try and bribe me with uh by massaging my ego and uh getting me to record that story as well if you want me to that's the other thing yes yes please ask john to tell you about his treatment otherwise i won't which may be better i don't know well we'll see lovely i think that probably wraps it up for this week doesn't it that'll do nicely

betty can you do a lightsaber oh god probably not it's good

right and now can you do a washing machine in the middle distance i don't know what what's what spin cycle is it on it just sounds the same as you like

what sound does a breville make i don't

know taking them off putting them on twirling them around people like pants

hello where's everybody gone 
sitting on the toilet squeezing out a love line working it so hard cause i need it to be supplied i hope the reason i'm getting stuck and this process is brown and sticky it's not just cause the book is bad but just because it's really tricky