About Mario

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Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mario Piumetti is a freelance writer of science fiction, horror, screenplays, and nonfiction. He has a bachelor's degree in English from California Lutheran University and an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University. An avid music lover, his work is heavily influenced by rock, punk, and metal. You can contact him at mario.piumetti.writer@gmail.com.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The First Draft

I normally update this blog once a week on Sundays, or Monday or Tuesday if I've had a particularly long and busy weekend.  However, last week was so long and exhausting that I kept forgetting to writing a new post.

Last week, I finished the ninth draft of my alien invasion novel, putting in so many hours of work that it wasn't unusual for me to go to sleep at around four or five in the morning (hence, the exhaustion).  Although it's a ninth draft, there were so many alterations done to the story over the last year (yes, it took me that long to write this one draft), that it was more like a 1st draft at the start of a new story.  It's this first draft that I want to talk to you about.

Gosh, where do I even begin? 

When I was in college, I had a professor who said that the first draft is pretty much the writer vomiting onto a page, and that never left me.  When you begin to write, you might begin to second guess yourself, going over your pages with a scowl; you think to yourself This will never work.  No one on bookshelves today writes like this.  Put another way, when you print out your story about the Mars Confederacy negotiating with the United Lunar Colonies, you might think of it as amateurish.  It doesn't sound like something a respected author would write.  Just say it out loud for a second.  Mars Confederacy?  United Lunar Colonies?  Who the hell writes shit like that?

Don't worry.  That novelty is a good thing, a really good thing, and even the big names have it.  When Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers, I doubt there was anything like the Terran Federation in literature.  When Harry Turtledove wrote his World War series, I'm sure part of him thought that the Race would sound too much like something from a cheesy pulp magazine from the 1950s.  Some writers simply have trouble imagining their rough work - printed from a standard home printer without fancy cover art - having the support of mainstream publishers.

Again, don't panic.  First of all, you're not an artist, so the cover art is out of your hands anyways.  Secondly, if the story is good, people will read it.  The cover art for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter wasn't something to brag about, but it was such a good book that I read almost all of it in one day.

Also, take a moment to appreciate your accomplishment.  You've written a novel.  It's still needs a lot of work, but you got to the end of it.  When I finished the ninth draft of my book, it came out to 429 pages and weighed enough that I thought it would be a good weapon for repelling robbers.  Few people have the fortitude to get through even the draft stage of a project, but you did.  That's not something you should shrug off.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What Inspires Me

Relatives from Colorado visited this week.  One night, as coffee and chit-chat were winding down a bit, I overheard my aunt say, "I wonder what inspires Mario."

By "inspiration," is the question, "Mario, where do you get ideas for your stories?"  The answer to that is a fit of enthusiasm.  Most of the time, I read a book or see a movie or watch a TV show about a certain topic from alien invasion to time travel to a pandemic, and I find the exposure so enjoyable that I cannot help but try to do my take on the subject matter.

By "inspiration," is the question, "Mario what keeps you going back and back to the writing?"  In that case, the correct word, I think, would be "drive," not "inspiration."  To me, inspiration is what sparks the creativity, while drive is what pushes me forward to get the work done.  I'm almost certain a great many others share my feelings on this.

So what drives me then?

All I can say is that I was put on this Earth to be a storyteller.  I enjoy it and it's something I'm good at.  I'm not a brilliant inventor nor am I a great businessman.  If I woke up tomorrow and said that I wanted to become a psychotherapist, I'd have to also acknowledge that I might be the last person to help someone with mental issues.  Most of my closest friends would agree.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Listening to Characters

They say that characters will write your story for you if you make them believable enough.  I had an experience last week that may, in my eyes, prove it right.

I thought that my novel would go down a particular road, that the plot would unfold in a particular pattern.  I thought this so much that I anticipated a long-term plan for it.  But as I wrote the latest chapter this week, I noticed that some of my characters were in clear and vocal opposition to the plan.  Now it seems that I'm rushing to catch up with them.  This doesn't seem right, does it?  Characters should be doing what the author tells them to do, not the other way around.

Perhaps it was me speaking to myself through the characters instead.  That does happen in writing when an author can't seem to get his shit out, so he uses the characters as surrogates to get his opinions out to the audience.  In this case, the audience was just me.  I guess the plot was nagging on me a little, I let that doubt slip out through one character and, before I new it, nearly half my cast was calling me out.

My point is this: don't be afraid to listen to what your characters are saying if you want to know where your fiction might be destined to head towards.  It may very well be your conscience trying to grab your attention.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Dark Side of the Short Story

I've lied to you, dear reader, and I don't want our relationship to be one poisoned by lies.  Back at the end of August, I wrote a post about short stories and how awesome they are.  I wrote about how they are a great way to break into a write career in a quick way, how they help sharpen your skills with the written word and how they lead to mastery of longer fiction.  Basically, I made it sound about as awesome as getting laid...while wearing the Iron Man suit.

But there's something about the short story that can blow way all those reasons: if you don't like, you shouldn't write it.  This is a personal belief on my part.  There are writers who excel at short stories but write crappy novels.  There are writers that can produce a rich series of novels but cannot bring that same level of skill to a short story.  I'm part of that latter group.

Am I talking trash about short stories because I haven't been able to get mine into print?  Is this an attempt to cover up some hurt feelings?  No.  Granted, my short fiction has been rejected every time, but those rejection letters were always profession and in many ways filled with encouragement and helpful pointers.

The problem is that a short story bores me too easily.  Because of the short length of the form, they generally cover brief plots.  Any of the Harry Potter books wouldn't work as a short story because they're too complex and intricate.  However, a story about a girl stressing out preparing Thanksgiving dinner for her visiting relatives or a guy trying to cover up the accidental murder of his girlfriend's pet bunny could work.  They're short scenarios that can be resolved fairly quickly.

I'm a complicated man and I like my stories equally complex.  I like it when the pieces fall together and I get a natural high when I do that for someone else in my work.