May 10, 2021

S1 Ep3: Erotica's a hard one

This week we have a good old fashioned chin-wag about our ongoing writing projects – including a unique take on the murder mystery genre and a truly amazing idea for a play. Then we seamlessly segue into talking about the time Dave and Tom met a Hollywood big-wig... and probably slightly embarrassed themselves. Oh, and we make foolish promises that will no doubt come back to haunt us all in Episode 4 next week.

Music by DanoSongs

although we don't make a habit of it roger during this series of podcasts we do occasionally let's slip the odd f word japan a blasphemous reference here and there donkey and there's even a mention of the horses in pride and prejudice if you're listening with children in earshot i wouldn't worry it's nothing they haven't already heard on tick tock do you know what i was having this discussion a bit about with a wife about words that you read in books that you never have to say out loud and then at some point you suddenly end up having to say them out loud yeah yeah and you said it totally wrong completely wrong yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah shah grana chagra yeah yeah much to his chargrin what do you mean it's shattergram that's a type of patter isn't it sorry what did you say char grin uh uh yeah hyper bowl hyper ball yeah yeah had that one that's a good one some words of course you can say in different ways and people swear that you can't and then you look it up and you go yeah it's actually all right so i mean like shrewsbury and shrewsbury exactly there was a bloke do you you know chris tiffany who used to work with me at galaxy yeah he um we used to have shrewsbury cookies in the vending machine at work and i remember one day i went i went and got one and i sat there eating this cookie and chris was sort of looking at me as he always did when i was eating and he just went um what's that and i said that's a shrewsbury cookie and he went is it um has it got real shrewsbury in it

what did you say no they're called shrewsbury exactly yeah get it right right um should we start the podcast yeah because i think we're lucky in direction right now

welcome to the failing writers podcast with three blokes who all love writing but probably don't get around to doing it as much as we should so we thought talking about it in a podcast might help us and others actually find the inspiration to get some words on paper this week we talk about what we're writing whether you can learn to be a great writer about the time we met a hollywood movie producer and erotica obviously

well let's start with you tom because you've said you've actually said that you've written something this week i have i've been beavering away like properly like enjoying it as well like maybe i'll just squeeze in another half hour actually oh i'll just go and have a little have a little tinker wow uh it's been quite exciting really what what are you writing the novel after the hiatus of uh i was looking at the file you know where it says it tells you when you last looked at the file and last saved it uh 2014. yeah yeah probably the last edition because you said this is this one you said you had two and a half chapters done yeah yeah yeah yeah so how many have you got now uh slightly more um i've done about two and a half thousand words in the last couple of days that's good going that tom so like two and a half thousand words yes i mean it depends which period you have i'm going to average it over the last week average it over the last seven years having said that john you say that as a little joke but it's true isn't it if i'd just written two words every day it does no but it shows that if you do a little bit every day rather than we said last podcast about you know oh i have to have my two hours and i've gotta build up to it and it's no point if i can't get well actually yeah doing a little bit it's fine yeah you'll have sessions that are longer but it's fine just having a little nibble at it it gets it done it keeps it moving yeah just just the odd word here and there yeah no it's been great because um there's an actual story coming out of it and things happening that i wasn't expecting did you get did you get chagra in there anyway i haven't yet i'm gonna get a shout out well that's two and a half thousand and one words then straight away so no exciting times good what is the book about tom tell us um it's a we not figured that out yet nearly murder mystery and a nearly murder mystery so what's a what's a nearly murder mystery the guy doesn't get murdered so i guess that's that's that's what makes it less of a never quite gets around there isn't actually a murder in it well that's well no one's ever going to solve that mystery are they well because all right well actually nobody did but nobody knows that yeah so it's a murder mystery but possibly doesn't have a murder in it so did you think what what do all murder mysteries have how can i make it yeah what i want to put my own twist on things yeah yeah just drop the murder just make it a mistake it's quite a cool story i think so yeah so i'm trying to do it it's i'm trying to keep it um light yeah it's not it's it's a little bit me do you want it's got a few little quirky funny nice bits in it but uh yeah it's the first time i've felt i don't know because i've maybe it's the right time for me to do it because i feel i always felt weak in the character side of things writing yeah i was always i never quite knew how to get the characters across what's changed just my writing style a little bit maybe i guess we never really had time to explore character in in 30 second radio adverts yeah i mean i think it was really writing radio ads was really good for dialogue but not yet yeah not a lot else actually but character development was was negligible wasn't it it's difficult to get a three-act into stereotypes don't yeah you could argue you could argue as well the character is sort of everything isn't it i mean the the plot's not are sort of like a nice to have but if you get the characters right you can sort of tell any story and people will enjoy it yeah i that was stuff well that's sort of become the fashion isn't it or the sort of perceived wisdom i'm not entire i'm not entirely sure that's true though or may i don't i don't sort of see it that way for me it's always been about sort of story you've got to have the characters gotta be right to tell the story but that would explain your papers in 2d character that's true but the characters make the story don't they that's that's sort of the uh i suppose that's the thinking behind it i don't want you the characters will create a story if they're good because that's what people do that's what humans do oh yeah it's tricky though in it because like you tom you wouldn't have sat down and started thinking about this man and building up his life story and then decide that he was going to fake his own no the twist in the story was the start yeah exactly what if what if this happened right well who would it happen to and how would it happen yeah maybe it's both maybe hold on a minute maybe stories need a story and characters in the story wow i am learning something with every podcast but i think my problem with characters before i was thinking the other day when i was writing and i know exactly what it was is that i was i was reluctant stroke scared to be um too explicit about showing what kind of character i always think that's really weak in in books where where it's the i don't know the alcoholic detective it's just so like what cliches yeah and it's just so just doesn't leave you to work out anything about that character you should show the character from the actions that they undertake yeah not yet not from the narrator of the of the story going he was like this she was formidable and often got angry at the drop of a hat and yeah didn't like wednesdays during oh but it was wednesday you gotta you gotta show these things but then i was all so scared that my writing wouldn't be good enough these little subtle things i was putting in to show the character wouldn't be enough yeah but i think hopefully i found some kind of balance in terms of yeah that's what you want exactly that is an important thing i do that quite a lot where you sort of you think of something and you go right that there we go i think i've got that across and then you start to worry is that clear enough is the reader or the listener or whatever well they get that and then you're in danger of like just you know mad exposition and and really hammering a point too much yeah exactly would you know when you sort of you tell a joke and then you worry that someone didn't get the joke so you start to explain it and thereby come in yeah i'll just completely overload the front end of the joke

set up an explanation and kind of like yeah yeah it does involve a lot of trust doesn't it writing because you do have to hand it over and just go how do you interpret that and that's the fundamental reading actually isn't it we all know from our english classes as kids that that can go on a funny journey can't it yeah so what do you think he meant by the door the door that was literally just what the guy walked through was there's a meeting behind it the door has a meaning of its own wait a minute that's how we just got from one room to the next my my english teacher miss seath her we did um pride and prejudice at school and it's about i don't know i well it's not even an inch thick that book her copy was about six inches thick because every page had like three or four post-it notes on it and she she would she could find a hidden meaning in every single word of the book her theories about what horses meant were just mad probably not suitable for school children well exactly he felt a bit wrong saying to her but in that time horses were the main mode of transport like the reason he rode a horse wasn't because he was a virulent character yeah you might have a point if he walked the book would have been over by the time he [ __ ] got there um but yeah you do yeah you have to trust your reader or listen or whatever didn't it to to figure out otherwise you could be explaining stuff forever you do and then but you find yourself second guessing what you've written as well and start analyzing it like a gcse english student don't you yeah you think oh well why oh why she got brown hair what am i saying that but you must put a lot nothing i just randomly picked it because i can but you must put a lot of subconscious stuff in your writing i i think that's probably true i'm sure there's a lot more i mean i think that's i think that's why it's sometimes why it's scary sharing your writing definitely yeah because because is it is a little window into your hidden bit of views when it pop out i always think that about um i'm sure you guys do the same they tell me but i always think that about um writing erotic fiction yeah sometimes you worry that people will get the wrong impression yeah are you trying to tell us something tom what have you do you have a non-deployment you've been writing uh for years um but i just think if you'd be i don't know you're just letting all your trade secrets out willy-nilly if you're pardoning the expression

and uh and they could be writing some erotic fiction and then worry that some of your sort of more literary sensibilities would accidentally come out uh as you were writing it i'd be worried that all sorts of things will come out while i'm writing it out left right and center no um if you you're there writing your erotic fiction and you know as the two lovers laid together hang on tommy naked steady on their flesh gently touching and then actually someone goes oh no it's no it's meant to last more than uh 80 seconds they want another page yeah and of course i mean this is just the character this is a deep meaning it's like the horse is in pride and project yeah you get it yeah yeah yeah [ __ ] that should be our task for next week to what to get to a second page fiction i did actually have an idea for using erotic fiction as an opener for a book i'm always big on the openness for books i think i don't know if it comes to the advertising part of me of wanting to hook people in yeah you should chunny in the first page of a book it should be a whoa what's happening here there's no point writing a really awful page and then doing you know 302 reasons don't put that on the front you put the awful pages in the middle of the book exactly yeah not at the front i just get it out of the way but no the idea that it was the character the main character was struggling with life and was trying to find a way out of whatever so he's trying all these different jobs and stuff and then he suddenly decided to try writing erotic fiction so the first page was just a page of absolutely awful erotic fiction what that your character wrote but you don't know that as you're reading it you just think it might be yeah you don't yeah it's your character's writing so at the end he's scrambling up throwing in a bin and the story starts to open up that this is yet another that's a good opening he's not been able to do it is it is it just needs again dev story of my writing life hey that's a good idea i should write that right i've done that bit now that's exciting what else should i do something else it's funny that we're talking about this because i genuinely for a very brief period thought maybe that would be quite a good way into writing fiction because i was thinking how hard could it be and i looked at i don't know what's the um what's the website where you can basically audition for um to be the voice of certain books i mean not very well known books oh what's it called it's like an amazon spin-off isn't it atx yeah yes yes it's something like that anyway and uh and i i uh i thought yeah i'll just have a little look at that and just see if anyone anyone needs their book uh you know this is when i was particularly quiet yes and uh and i looked and i thought i'll check what the best sellers are because obviously you don't want to you know you don't want to book deal where you're reading something that no one's ever going to listen to obviously welcome to the failing writers podcast and uh every single bestseller was just like filthy fiction

there's obviously a lot of people going for this maybe that's maybe that's the way in it's like you could write some mucky fiction on the side and then have a you know write the stuff you actually wanted to write but it'll probably help you know hone your writing as well so for a while i was like maybe i'll just just go yeah it's a it's an establishment it's great wasn't it and that was the that was the how to make a million things out wasn't it well that probably started off as a boardroom story didn't it about a powerful ceo and then it just it took a turn well when i don't have yeah i took a turn for handcuffs and things you watched the film no i'm just i'm just guessing but but that's an established path isn't it i'm sure there are lots of people who wanted to be proper actors who thought i'll just do a bit of porn just to get in there work yeah yes i can i can work on me you know meet me that's exactly the same problem though isn't it you're doing your business and then people are going oh is that is that how you're doing it i never thought i never thought of putting that there everyone's a critic same with erotic fiction but the brilliant thing about 50 shades of grey was was that it was pretty poorly written without wishing to be too judgmental of someone that was also very successful but um but people were reading it regardless the buzz around it had got so big and so yeah going through all the social media and everything the people were reading it getting two chapters in going god this is hard this is terrible i'm buying the other ones and then yeah i'm still reading it and buying yeah it's still fine there must have been something about it and other people would still go out and buy it and go oh yeah everyone says it's rubbish better get a copy was it sort of the first sort of really kind of sort of highly erotic book that went proper mainstream that might have been lady chateley's lover in 1960 something there well yeah i suppose so i suppose so yeah but you know it's sort of made some dodgy egyptian hieroglyphics showing the thing it's it's not it's as uh as old as the hills isn't it humans have been having sex for literally centuries david right right well i guess i guess so yeah but um so is there going to be any any sex in your book tom yes something that might be actually this is something that happens i've been led to believe how explicit are you going to go tomorrow i think i'm going to breeze over it a little bit to be honest yeah because i always hate it in film you know when you're watching a really good film yeah it's got like a proper story and then and i always assume it's not the actual writer of the story but it's someone at the studio going you know what we should have here let's put a love interest in and you're like oh my god and it just like puts there's the handbrake on the story i don't care whether you're gonna get off with her there's people behind you that are waiting to shoot you this is not the time for this conversation just seriously literally i don't know do you mean they're stood there at the an arms deal and there's people waiting to shoot them and they're still gonna have a little kiss i think even like my wife if we're just going out for a meal and the car park's a bit busy and i try and leave come on car park's busy let's get out of here yeah they're waiting guys come on fine put my pants back on not in the ncp tom come on no i'd hate that in films where it's just like uh it just seems so unnecessary they always get their pants on really quickly don't they but after a sex scene like there'd be it's this wild sex scene and then there's a knock at the door and when they get up out of bed they're like pretty much fully dressed again straight away you see dave that's exactly that's me completely i'm in there do the business and then i'm fully dressed like seconds afterwards yeah so i'd write that into a scene thinking that's normal and then you'd come along i know what everybody does aren't you always quite grateful though that they dress so quickly when you're watching a film with your kids well i don't know i don't i don't remember there being a sex scene in the gruffalo to be honest but that's because you've not read the subtext for me that could be it yeah well that's that's good tom that you've written something it's excellent dave it's brilliant i'm feeling a burning passion inside me yeah but get it on the page so are you going to get back to it today no probably leave it a few weeks no i will yeah i'll probably have a little little tinker i think yeah i feel like i've uh i feel like this podcast has done some good you've been inspired thomas yeah i think i have i think i have and i feel like i've actually got a story to tell now it's kind of there was a few bits that didn't really work that i'd kind of hit a bit of a brick wall with yeah seven years ago yeah i feel like a bit more in control of actually just thinking well you know i can just change that and i'm coming to terms with and having having my peace with letting stuff slide in the story rather than having it all completely watertight yes we said this last week didn't we just get to the get get to the end and you know yeah i've fallen down with that before definitely and actually that's for later yeah that's for sorting out yeah it is and maybe not even later i mean there are some really great books where they're just like gaping plot holes there's quite a few shakespeare plays even where just things just totally don't make sense they somehow it doesn't really matter if it's good do you know i always notice in books and i think people you know what as a when you're writing something and you leave stuff for later as in you put it into the story thinking yeah i might reference that later or that'll be important in this bit later on see so it's quite a specific action or or something that happens to your character yeah and then you forget about it but it stays in there because there's nothing wrong with it intrinsically like it's it's fine it's just kind of it doesn't end up having the important uh yeah yeah it has no relevance whatsoever and i think sometimes in stores you can kind of see that yeah couldn't be asked to go back to the thing that happens that then has no relevance yeah there's no they forget to come back to it well you just get caught up in the like you have tom get caught up in the moment and start going down a different thread and then you know you forget about it but how amazing is it when you when you actually get on that where the story starts writing itself yeah well do you mean where you feel like you're reporting what's happening rather than creating what's happening yeah and you can even have a really tight like crisp plot that you want to follow that you've really thought about and you still go off on a tangent yeah because you think this is better somehow the character wouldn't do that yeah exactly yes therefore i'm going to take it this direction that's when you've got your characters right isn't it that's what i said i struggled with that before about trying to force them into doing stuff or square pegs in round holes yeah follow their own path which brings us back to the erotica no it doesn't i think i saw that one has everyone else not got a square peg oh god well maybe that's next week's uh task is to uh to do that to write a little bit of erotic fiction and uh or maybe it should be bad erotic yeah oh yeah it could be uh is that good erotica to cover ourselves off because then you can just uh you can always go well it's very bad isn't it i think that's the point it's got to be bad isn't it well i think that's where my initial thought came from from from the idea of having the baddie rotten i think a page of daddy erotica at the start of a novel that opening let's all try and write the opening to tom's next book yeah let's do it we all need uh a pen name as well because i noticed that when i was looking through that website that all the names are like kitty deveer kitty devi exactly you need some kind of uh they all got initials they're clearly like all middle-aged men writing these stories but i'm going to be charlton longstaff

you're listening to the failing dieters pot what writers ah right yeah cool i didn't realize johnson chris

you've got to have an initial that that's that's quite a big thing isn't it you know in your writer's name oh yeah right isn't that for more serious writers well apparently it's it's quite a big sort of power move in in sort of hollywood circles you mean like cs lewis yeah exactly yeah w w shakespeare uh yeah you gotta get you know uh yeah but you know like uh l ron hubbard just putting um a sort of letter oh is he not called elroy no it's just wrong this is confusing isn't it but you know but apparently putting an uh there's a theory that putting the right letter in your writer's name can have a massive impact on whether you're seen as being sort of successful and um and serious or you know just just forgotten about like m night shyamalan and and what's the correct lecture i don't know that's the problem if i knew it i wouldn't be on this podcast would i have been sipping champagne somewhere but it can't be your the letter of your name yeah yeah a letter that doesn't what it doesn't appear in your real name do you have a middle name tommy yes edward so this is which is where we get conf confusing because i'd be tom e turner so i'll be tommy turner tommy like people will get confused and think i'm called totally tommy t edward turner yeah i'm just ever grateful that my parents didn't think to give me the middle name of ian i guess would be my uh starting point

because that would spell tit

but what about you john have you er have you been using your got any initials i think jc rand is quite good actually i think i'm going to change that immediately see what i mean that sounds like a powerful yes writer that should be taken seriously as john just sounds like a good idea he would listen to john dave what's your what's your initial my middle name's john we can't do that oh dj can't you can't believe it people get confused d john d john bed d john bed he's the

mustard nice have you written anything john in your in your two hour window have you been using your slots i have been using my slots i good i think i told you i was working on a um a short story yep katie uh sort of commissioned me she said you need to you need to write is this are we still talking about erotica yeah that's right well she just said think of something new john she did yeah think of something really brilliant and clever and new and write that oh okay uh no she said um write uh write some love stories is what she said and i was like really and she said yeah well you've got like you've got three already and you could put out a little book for valentine's day mythology a little book of love stories said it's the kind of thing that might you never know i thought yeah i'll just i'll but sometimes it is nice it's nice to have uh like a restriction on what you write you know what i mean like a direct not just a direction but you have to focus on one particular thing yeah you know it can be yeah there's a lot of truth in that having a brief you know if you're just given carte blanc or carte blanche as tommy would say then carl blanckey then uh it's actually really difficult isn't it it's like people who write uh you know like lipograms and things you know when you're writing with a can within a constraint like uh there's that novel just for our listeners that might not know what that is what is it a librogram is when you you miss something out you can't write something i think so there's a novel gadsby which was i can't remember who wrote it oh like where they don't use the letter exactly it's entirely written without the the letter e and you have to sort of perform these linguistic gymnastics to describe something sometimes yes i've done that with a lot of my writing where i don't include a story because a lot of writing does have a story yeah and it's very hard most of mine doesn't have a point you've no idea when you finished is this the beginning the middle or the end but no about the writing thing because i've done some uh given some training um when i was working ready on writing the bit about writer's block in there i claim there's no such thing as writer's block it doesn't exist right all it is is not knowing your brief not knowing what you're meant to be writing because we're all used to working from a brief weren't we in the olden days because if you know what you're meant to be writing you can write yeah and that's exactly what you've just said john and you have tricky bits where you slow down and you don't do very much for a bit but yeah you're right it's not a blog no it's not it's just a problem to work no what it is you don't know what problem you're trying to work out with your writing yeah as soon as you've got something to explain you've got something to write but that's exactly what you're saying there with having a little brief a little direction of it needs to be this yeah it gives you it gives you that little bit of framework doesn't it just start building stuff around yeah rather than staring at the screen going also love stories are really hard so it's quite a good challenge yeah and totally out of my comfort zone i think i don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing maybe you should just write in you well how's it going so far have you have you started did you did you yeah i've nearly i've nearly finished this this one i've been working on it for like i don't know like um two months maybe but it's it's become longer than a short story really because normally you'd want to wrap it up around 3 000 words or something but i've uh i've already got to about six and a half thousand words might as well keep going now then yeah and where does your natural where does your natural lean take you on a love story then is it all um sunshines and rainbows or is it bittersweet and melancholic or is it well you know me i'm a bit bittersweeter melancholy yeah i tend to go down the darker route well no actually that's not true all over to be honest the other the other so the other ones i've written they're they're all really different and that's that's a good good thing to have isn't it interesting the collection of stories for them to be different i think so important isn't it but i like writing in different styles as well i find that really interesting you know and i think like you know a lot of people say you should write about write about your own life which i sort of agree in i agree with to a certain extent like you should write about the things that interest you yeah don't write about your actions about my own life i would never write about boring would that be i know that's what i mean i never write about being a middle-aged bloke who does voice-overs and you know lives in yorkshire i mean yeah i couldn't be honest like the whole point of the whole point in writing is that you get to like live through other people yeah yeah there's a bit of vicarious escapism this is a wonderful thing yeah yeah i can't imagine writing your own memoirs i can't imagine anything more dull to be honest well there's a thing but interestingly saying saying you're right about what you know in the um the novel that i've just started rewriting or started writing on again um initially i'd set it um in the state because it just seemed sexier and more fun and then as soon as i was actually doing some proper writing on it this week that just got really hard yeah just just for the little bits of vindications and stuff of all there's a bit where just this woman's driving down the street and it says passing such and such as you know shops you think oh my god what kind of shops would they have don't i don't want to research it i just want this one right yeah exactly for that situation isn't it for just the sake of nothing isn't that great though that is that is a very cool thing though isn't it the fact that you can like i don't know however long 15 years ago to do all that research what a pain in the ass yeah but now you literally if you want to visit a street in seattle or something and you can just go there walk down the street and have a look at your windows and it's it's mentally brilliant yeah that is one thing though that i i shy away from doing in writing it because i know it is quite an important part of a lot of people's writing processes to research things but i'm i'm just a bit too lazy for that i instead of actually researching stuff i'll try and find a way around it to not i'll not mention that you know like exactly that point of what shops would there be like in writing something that took place that book that i was doing about okay so so what was going on in 1989 instead of thinking about it i tried to try not to mention anything that specific maybe i mean i should be a bit more conscientious i think well no but you're right you were alive in nightmares was it live so you are writing about what you know as well do you mean this is kind of i wasn't you know i was nine so that's yeah quite little yeah yeah well that's good john that's um quite exciting so is it going to be like a big a big collection big sort of co-op anthology of uh of love stories it's probably not going to be that big is it well i'll just keep i'll just keep going let's see yeah i'm doing it you know as part of other things that i like i've started writing yeah i've got a book that i've started as well that's a bit longer it's a novel and uh is a well it's a it's like a sort of comedy cipher wow oh which is very unlike the sort of stuff i i actually decided that i should probably try to write something that people might want to read that was the that was the brief for that one yeah rather than like a philosophical novel about free will or something so yeah

you're listening to the failing writers podcast a podcast about failing to be a writer

well it's funny isn't it because it it is important to like have that sort of um have a brief have an idea of what you're wanting to do but i was thinking about this the other day about when i sort of when i left galaxy in what became a voice over with the idea of of sort of dedicating myself to writing i did a load of like writing workshops and seminars and training sessions and that sort of thing with uh with a screen screen yorkshire and there were like some bbc writers from the things i went on and on the one hand it was really really good to sort of learn new skills and it was a lot of talk about story structure and character arcs and character development all this sort of thing and also from the bbc point of view of looking at okay what are we looking for what sort of programs are we commissioning at the moment and all that sort of thing um and it was great in one sense but in another sense i found i found it quite prohibitive because whereas before i would just sit down and just start writing stuff and just see what came out and i would just write when i was a teenager i'd write for hours and hours and hours and most of it was garbage but there'd be some good stuff in there then i learned all this stuff about writing and i became so focused on like thinking about what i was going to write and what the audience would be and and and how i would frame it and how i would structure it i ended up not writing anything at all for literally years i didn't write a word because i spent so long thinking about what to write i would talk myself out of any idea that i had and and it was only sort of recently that i've stopped doing that and stopped thinking too much about i guess a balance really isn't it you've got to think about what you're going to do but i think you've got to trust your own talent though haven't you yeah well that's the problem isn't it but you've also got it i think you've got to have it if you've got it in the back of your mind yes kind of yeah enough isn't it yeah do you know what i mean and the more you practice the more you write the better you get at it and you don't even have to think about it it's like you know you know you know what's working and what isn't yeah it's right you know you're talking about sort of character stuff you've got to kind of know about your characters but you don't obviously you don't want to put all that into your book like said tom or whatever you're writing you've got to know it so that it informs decisions but that's that's the sort of balance to try and strike isn't it like how much do you do you keep in the background and how much do you let ooze onto the page because i've been reading uh a book about play a playwright have you guys have like read books on how to write and you know how to sort of to do stuff yeah um because i've got i've got this book yet uh it's about playwriting structure character how and what to write by stephen jeffries and it was given to me by my friend andy who with whom i've been trying to write a play um and my first thought was that clearly andy's taking a look at what i've written so far and gone i better buy him yeah you're gonna need some help here um but it is quite helpful it is all about sort of just ideas and a lot of it i find with these things a lot of it you read and go well i know that but there's a difference in there between sort of knowing what to do and actually having it front of mind like it's good to be reminded of of the stuff that you should be doing i think so so have you finished the book no no like like everything that i've ever written um i've come back not quite halfway through um but i know i'm still reading it it's um it's quite interesting it's quite actually speaking of which the guy who wrote it didn't actually finish writing it he um he died before he got there so someone else had to write it for him to be fair compared with some of our excuses that is a pretty good excuse that is a pretty good excuse but no it's good and it's it's helpful because it sort of references a lot of real uh actual plays and things that you could you could if you wanted to if you were so inclined look at and see what he's talking about see i get that i get that for talking about like the structures of things and what have you but when it comes down to the craft side of things i don't i don't like it why not tom i think there's an element if you've either got it or you haven't and you and you make it better by practicing so do you know do you not think like someone can come and talk to you about being a world-class footballer but unless you've got the talent and you put the training in so do you not think that anybody could ever be a writer do you think there's just some people who just couldn't ever no you'd just stop i think some people will be bad writers it's unfortunate it's one of those things that everyone thinks they can do because most people can write yeah and it happens with anything like with our jobs being voice-overs you have it before where people got where it's just reading stuff so anyone can do that and it's not quite true yeah yeah i suppose so everyone can everyone can do it as in everyone can everyone can sing like you know everyone can open their mouth and make a noise come out but that doesn't mean and then you see a lot of them on the x factor thinking they should be the next adele um i you know i i you could be right tom because i did i saw a lot of people on the the workshops i went on who were clearly and i don't not into saying this in an arrogant way but because i've never done anything but there were a lot of people who were clearly never going to make it as a writer they're clearly awful um and bless him we're trying to learn how to be better but it wasn't making any difference yeah well no it might get them from being quite rubbish to not quite rubbish that's what i mean i think there's a there's a point where you have to just say well yeah actually having good ideas and being able to write them and having a natural talent for writing and then practicing that kind of trumps any books that you're going to read about it any little self-help books although that is a great way to make money i would imagine yeah because i think a lot of these things do kind of prey on obviously not the bbc stuff that i guess was free asian but there's an element of and we see it in our industry don't we the voice over stuff the kind of the it's it's a massive industry isn't it yeah there's more money to be made in teaching people how to be volunteers than there is in actually voiceovering at the moment and it's it is exactly the same writing like i i sort of i signed up to lots of different newsletters and things and there are so many courses you can go on like how to write a sitcom um and these people have made careers out of teaching people how to write a sitcom and then you think well if you know how to write the perfect sitcom why why aren't you sat at home writing the perfect sitcom rather than rather than trying to yeah rather than charging people to tell them your sort of hints and and tips i don't know if you remember years ago dave we had training from a sitcom writer yes i i arranged that because i found the notes from it the other day when i was clear now i remember it well um because i'd worked with this guy i think it was um from uh from the comedy unit in scotland where they were the scottish sketch was uh was from uh and i remember one part of that training was that he gave us this sort of sketch it was like the first draft of a sketch and he said uh like read that and sort of try and pick out the funny bits and see if you can make it into a better sketch and i'm reading the sketch and it was dreadful i didn't find any decent bits in it at all and i think i think we said the same thing i was loved to say anything like this now that you actually mentioned him by name but uh but but that's i'm gonna i'm gonna agree with you and then in the edit i'll probably bleep his name out all right because that's well he's going to change his name to something else yeah well he's going to change his name to charlton longstaff charlton longstaff gave us this sketch to look at and but he didn't actually write it um but he'd he was a script editor i think and yeah he'd taken that sketch he'd seen something in it and that sketch went on to be the basis for the long-running sitcom still game it was probably the first half of a very funny sketch there probably the first 40 seconds and we're like well why is there no punchline in it this is the way this is the scottish way we don't have much lanes in our sketches we're just getting rid of the punch lines that's not safe for them yeah but um i don't i don't know if these things are uplifting and inspirational or depressing when you see i think i find them i think that's the thing i find them quite depressing yeah that you can work and work and work on something and think it's really good and then something that you just it's just dreadful comes along and that somehow ends up but is it because it's got the right i mean there is the possibility that we're completely wrong in our judgment of stuff but i mean i doubt it yeah i think sometimes it's the right people are behind it at the right time or frame down taking risks or not taking risks and stuff yeah yeah when you hear that a lot don't you when you when you know if you watch say a documentary about how the office got on air or whatever it is yeah the the durian that there are there's someone somewhere that's gone do you know what sod it yeah we'll take it we'll take a point on this one having somebody who can see that seed in it because i think it's really easy isn't it when you're writing something to be absolutely obsessed about making sure every detail is perfect but when it comes to the process of actually you know the real word of commissioning stuff they're often looking for like a seed that goes oh yeah there's some there's something in that which is really good like all these these other 50 000 words don't matter but yeah that one the way that he's written chagra there is so good uh we're going to make something out of this yeah and but then i think if you're talking to sitcoms if you go back 15 20 years the first series of a sitcom wasn't always particularly that good no well and then it would grow from there as the characters developed yeah whereas i think very much now it's kind of a lot of them are kind of you got to hit the ground running yeah yeah you've got one shot yeah if you don't get it right you're not coming you're not getting a second series well i think that's give me a second series your [ __ ] well that's like only falls in the horses i think is as an example of that yeah it wasn't particularly good for the first first couple of years and uh i don't know if you ever watched parks and recreation i've seen the first series of it and i'm wondering about the first series is terrible yeah i'm wondering what all the fuss is about it's the first series in order to understand and appreciate the second and third and fourth series i should move on and then it gets really serious yeah thanks for that because i've been wondering what the fuss was about with that because the first one is just not very good is it and it's funny actually if parks and recreation is a great one to watch first to second series just to see how much they just went ah [ __ ] it we'll just change that character oh really we'll keep that character but we'll just we'll just kind of pivot their personality to there that's better okay but there are just a few two or three of the characters just have like a proper like personality transplant i see backstory kind of yeah just yeah you think you just oh tweak that but a lot of that is about having sort of backing um and money somewhere down the line that says no we're going to stick with this but yeah someone's got to take that risk yeah i've got to tell you that risks all about um you know how things develop isn't it yeah which reminds me when we went on that training course dave yep that was the fateful one when dab digital radio was just coming in and remember there was that fantastic talk about how it was the future yes and how the signals received would be so much better than fm yeah really no and then one day one day once this all takes off you'll have a radio you'd be listening to the radio and you won't be able to get on it what what what were you about to get pictures they'll have pictures along with the sound i remember me and dave just looking at each other

television again television isn't it but the pictures probably wouldn't be moving so it's like a port it's like a really poor television cool cool yeah future of radio we're in yeah we had some wonderful um wonderful sort of meetings uh radio wise look the training sessions we went on i remember this one with a guy who was supposed to be like an inspirational sales guy but it clearly it had come out of he had like a breakdown or something and he was using this breakdown as his sort of his sort of personal affirmation so he basically came out and just started going on about how wonderful his life was now um i'm sure he started by saying uh so yeah nice to meet you all um so i gotta tell you i was at the rugby world cup in south africa last year in this five-star hotel apparently how sweet glass windows overlooking tabletop mountain having sex with my beautiful gorgeous model wife out of a window um so yeah just thought i'd tell you that and then anywhere into the presentation again that's where i'd struggle with erotica you see that's obviously normal but i can't remember the last time i had sex with my wife out of a window no overlooking tabletop mountain no um and then wrote some like little um cards to affirm yourself that says i am good i am worthy is this is this guy the inspiration for your book tommy um for legal reasons um i'm unable to answer that at this stage

uh fair enough well yeah lawyers can get in the way yeah i've put a bit in the front of the book with the usual um any resemblance to persons living in or dead is purely coincidental but not that coincidental apart from the ones that were [ __ ] where i've kept the real names yeah no i think i i took my pathetic little sales book book um i drew on a lot of i've had a lot of different training from a lot of different people over the years and so it's not really based on any one person at all um it's just been amalgamated it's a mishmash and very much a comment on the the culture of sales rather than any individual i think that covers it is it perfect because it's yeah it's because you were talking about that book tom and you said that you were sort of worried about you know whether things about things sort of dating or not necessarily being relevant because it's sort of taken a long time um and i've been thinking the same thing because the play that i was was writing with with my friend um was about a pub quiz and then sort of covid's happened and i've just got this feeling that everyone must be sick to death of quizzes now like a pub quiz is just something that no one's going to give a [ __ ] about anybody you know what we should do dave change the play so it happens on zoom yeah zoom upgrade that'll because yeah everyone will love that wouldn't they um but yeah it's just a i don't know that's a sort of common thing where you you sort of worry about stuff that you write becoming outdated or obsolete if you take too long about it it's just not gonna not gonna make sense anymore like because it's something that i really i like what we've done so far and i want to do a bit more on it but i'm just i'm worried now if if anyone's gonna i think care or if anyone's gonna i think people would be so keen to get back into facebook

also people are desperate to get back to the pub or think about the pub in any yeah that's true just i call the play a return to the pub quiz and everyone be over it like a rash well you see the cool thing about it the great thing about the idea is that whilst whilst watching the listening today saying how great his idea is must be good go on dave what is so great about whilst watching the play you act you can actually do the quiz so if even if you don't like the play there's

the idea is instead of it being like you're going to the theater to watch a play you're going to the pub to do a quiz and you get your question in your pen and all that and then whilst you're there this story unfolds on one of the other tables you know one of the other teams has this sort of domestic thing going on and you over here you should finish that yeah should do we've done we've done like a draft of it but it's then sat on a shelf for like a year and a half but um should go back to that really yeah definitely now i've read the playwriting book or some of it anyway back in there but you are you guys uh theater goers do you have you ever thought of writing a play other than you know rather than a book or anything like that i love the theater i thought you you were a sort of theater i've written a couple of short plays when i was at uni yeah uh i thought you were the type i mean i'm talking short like half hour little thing yeah but i've never thought about writing an entire play an entire play i quite like the idea of a play i like the restrictions yeah i guess back to what we were talking to before about about having a brief and having a yeah do you mean kind of a framework that you have to start from yeah but kind of the idea right you've probably got like four players at most really and everything's got to be done on this one place but trying not to make it boring i quite like that as a yeah that's that's how that's how we started was thinking about because we just thought well this we'd have to do we'd have to somehow put it on ourselves which means we'd have to have a very simple you know sort of stage and a very limited cast that was the sort of starting point and then it sort of went from there but um because i'm not i'm not a big like a big theater person but you know i think it's quite a good exercise to sort of write write a play i think there's some i quite like um even just writing um yeah definitely like radio play or or whatever it is there's something very freeing about just doing all the work through dialogue yeah isn't the german 90 of the work is done just by people talking about it bouncing off by yeah that's that's when your characters have to be absolutely like nailed on in it because if they're not interesting people and the whole thing is just people talking yeah and if they're not doing what they should do unless there's a really good reason not to it kind of holds not no no not a single car chase no explosion it can be kind of just you can't see it that's the thing about the players you can it's kind of a bit like writing radio ads yeah

yes just imply that it happened yeah looking out the window katie and i uh had uh for many years we've talked about when we're 50 i don't know why we probably seemed a long way away at one point didn't it yeah yeah i think that's probably what it was when we're 50 we're we need to write a play devise some kind of two-hander quick tip for you john if you're going to do that don't do it when the edible festival's on because it gets really busy you're better off doing it do it another time yeah you'll be able to because otherwise you won't be able to get a hotel and stuff or all the theaters would be full so yeah that's a really good point yeah i'll do it don't do it in edinburgh do it somewhere else but it is getting closer now like it like you were saying before you know it's a really long way away so that's great and we've got loads of time yeah we can start having our you know we'll start having ideas now you know now we're like 38 and now there's not that long to go we still haven't had an idea for it not that we've been thinking about it but yeah might be time

somehow through some superhuman perseverance or maybe you've just left it on the background by mistake you're still listening to the failing writers podcast we've discussed the fact that it's less and less likely that i'm going to become a professional footballer now i think that that ship has sailed and probably passed the age bracket to be england captain i'm probably in the age bracket to be a professional darts player still but i'm like yeah i'm not really in the being any good at darts bracket so that sort of writes that one off so yeah it's just the writing that's left but you know i'm getting getting on in that sense as well it doesn't matter how old you are i do often wonder if we've already if i've sort of you know peaked a long time ago no the sort of awards that i've got the best best award i ever won was that was the silver award for copywriting at the 2004 new york festival's international advertising award dave that's an amazing award well it would be all right it would be much that's amazing wow what's the worst thing about it tom that's really good the worst thing about it is that tom won the bloody gold and uh oh yeah forgot about that yeah i got the one better didn't i i got the gold one yeah yeah well i was thinking about that the other day because i found this picture and because i got i also got the un award and the the you didn't really get many photos at the ceremony so remember tom we went out onto the streets of new york with our awards and took these pictures and it was oh it was freezing cold it was like minus 20 odds so and i it's that we saw the um the weather report and it said if you go outside today and any of your skin is uncovered after five minutes you will get frostbite essentially we weren't we were like whatever because it was only fahrenheit and we didn't really lose your hand but then they had a guy who had that thing where they throw a a cup of water up in the air and it comes down to snow and both like right he's gonna put the scarf well i don't i don't i don't own hats i've got like a really big head so i don't wear hats uh i thought i'd be fine and then after two minutes outside like home on my face

i can't speak so i don't think it helped dave that we went up the empire state building at nine o'clock in the morning oh well and we got off the top and literally managed about 20 seconds outside before like i don't blink well it was frozen i'm sure it was you said that somebody you knew had said if you go if you go to the empire state building you've got to be there when it opens because otherwise the queues will be massive you'll never get in so we were there before it opened there was nobody there we were the first people like in the whole of new york which shows that i was right so we went up like 80 floors up and then you go up the last few floors on on the stairs don't you and there's a gift shop and then we went outside and we literally walked out through the door walked around walked back in the next door

i bought this um new york fire department hat because it was so bloody cold so then we went out the day after the awards and we took the pictures with the awards and there's one with me holding the un award and then tom i think you just started experimenting with photoshop like around that time so tom had done this picture and he'd photoshopped kofi annan handing me the u.n award

and then you'd put the un building behind us yeah and i'm so i'm sure we sent that to like our boss neil sent it to the national creative director that's it and it came back saying this is amazing we've got to get some pr out of this we need to do a press release it's not real i like kofi anne's there in his best suit and tie and i'm there in me coat and a scarf from the new york fire department hat on oh god that's not real and then there was like like to prove it wasn't real i sent him the other one you did which was me on a beach being handed the award by britney spears in a bikini so i just love the idea that it was real and you and coffee and amma stood there and you're in all your winter clothes and you're going oh it's cold isn't it like well you get after a bit it's not that bad when you've lived there a few years well that could have been the peak yeah that was an interesting trip though dave it was it was the um how long were you there for we're only there for three three days yeah but we accidentally got very drunk when we first got there

and then at the awards dude we ended up sat on a table with this couple this younger looking lady um well some of parts of the face were younger looking weren't they yeah some bits of it were quite new but they came over because i don't remember this tom the reason they came and sat next to us is because they thought and this maybe gives away the age of the lady in question but she thought that i was a young matt damon

i uh really disappointed to discover that i wasn't that matt damon wasn't at the advertising awards um that year yeah that's why that's why they're sat next to us yeah but it turns out so she was she was in airplane two the film yeah um and a few other b movies and uh anyway so we got talking and what have you and then she introduced us to larry her partner husband um yeah partner i think and larry's all like oh it's not about me tonight doll don't talk it's about you sure night tonight because she was up for a ward he was just a company she's like oh larry's quite big in hollywood all right cool it's quite exciting isn't it thinking yeah and uh yeah he well shame he's dead we could have got him on the podcast he was a writer wasn't he yeah yeah it was yeah a successful yeah so he'd done loads of films and we're like oh wow cool and she's like yeah have you heard of um such in such a film i mean dave like ah no no not heard of that one and then i remember she said something about a film called cue or something that involved a dragon flying around the chrysler building oh no no no so we get about four or five films in the me and david getting a bit uncomfortable it like kind of drop it lady we don't it's brilliant and everything and the trouble is the next film she said was phone booth which both me and dave responded to by going ah right yeah as in oh wow you've said when we know oh that was a bit of a [ __ ] film really it wasn't awful but he was great because he kept saying no no no no tonight i'm not here as larry cohen world famous director screenwriter and author of phone booth one of the original people behind the prisoner i'm not here as larry cohen who came up with the original concept for the stephen king it adaptation i'm just here larry cohen as lorraine landon's partner it's all about her tonight and he must have gone on about all the things that he wasn't there for for about 10 minutes but do you remember what she because she was up for um she was a cop she wasn't a copywriter she'd written that um it was it was a public service ad to stop children going on to train tracks but she'd written it as a rap yes oh yeah yeah and he was going oh it's so good she's like she is like the snoop dogg of the public service advertising world

but it was brilliant because i think a lot of people don't know about um the sort of advertising awards how long and boring they are because there are so many categories and it's just a cash machine the idea is to make money off people which is there there's a there's like a hundred categories and then split that into radio tv online whatever the trouble is when you're in the top category of the entire thing you have to wait right to the very end i mean we were there yeah until the end we were there all night victims of our own success yeah but they sort of said didn't they like like so what we do is we announce the category we announce the nominations we say the winner if it's you you walk up this side of the stage shake hands with the person in the middle walk straight down the other side of the stage and then you go out the back into this warehouse where you'll actually get your award and have a photograph taken which then you can purchase later on yeah apart from lorraine landon lorraine london was the only one who had her photograph taken on the stage which made me wonder if larry uh hadn't had something to do with the whole thing oh i'm i'm not saying that but it was suspicious wasn't it that the only person who got up and won and had their photo taken on stage was there with us are you suggesting that larry director god rest his soul the famous hollywood producer and writer yep had forced children in los angeles to get run over on the railway lines in order that a public service messaging needed making for it that then lorraine london could write a rap too uh stranger things have happened wow wow so what a murky world it is the world of advertising it is is she the is she the lady on the in instagram thing that you sent the other day yes yeah yeah she's she's lorraine london she's still on instagram bless her um yeah looking at it interestingly i think on average she's still the same age as when we met her 15 years ago

that's la for you take an average of all the parts she's the same age

because she's had plastic surgery well i can i can honestly i can still remember the look in her clearly cataract eyes when i said that i wasn't matt damon yeah you should have just said yeah you should have done that really you ruined the whole bristol accent as well yeah but then i'd i'd say oh yeah i'm matt damon and um that's right my back story for the reason why i'm here i'm in character for my next film larry might have given you a gig he could have been in the first place he could have been in the in the sequel to the sequel of phone booth steve bird is in the post box the phone booth was brilliant though because it was sort of it because he said on the night i've had this idea for ages and it's i was just gonna say this you know what we're saying about things that go out of date ideas that no longer came out just as everyone was getting a mobile phone yeah he released a film about being stuck in a phone booth you'll notice in the film they neatly get around that by making a big point at the start going oh no my mobile phone has run out of batteries anyway let's continue with the story to be fair that did happen a lot you probably didn't notice it because it's very subtle bless him but i do i sometimes i think that was where it that was where it peaked it was just all been downhill since since january 2005. is that partly because we haven't written that much that probably doesn't help is it um possibly yeah maybe it's just looking at that silver award every day and thing and realizing that tom's got the gold somewhere in his house just in the garage you have it if you aren't

got anything else to talk about no that's the end of the podcast that's pretty fine

do we do we um oh should we should we recap that um what our tasks for next time are so yeah so the task for next week is to write a couple of paragraphs of poor erotic fiction and right note the word the word fiction is very important okay okay sold are there any writers that like did one really great book and never managed to get another one on the show jesus


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