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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Eat the Rich: Day 38

It's happened before.  It'll probably happen again.  It happened today.  I've lost my mojo.

When I started Eat the Rich, I thought it was great getting in three pages a day (I'm very proud of that pace), and having a hundred pages in about a month, and this and that.  It was a wonderful high.  And taking time off this weekend, I thought I'd come back to the story typing and picking like a motherfucker.

That didn't happen.

I thought, "Twenty pages is good.  Fifty pages is great.  A hundred pages, this thing could really take off."  Hell, I thought that reaching the hundredth page would put me in the clear for sure.  It didn't.  I found myself struggling to get the story across.  Those three pages came out sounding forced.  And then, this morning, I thought how the story was boring me.

I feel bad about this.  I really do.  I've got friends who were really hoping to read this.  But if Eat the Rich bores me, it'll bore the reader too.  Always trust that rule: if you're bored, the readers will notice it and feel the same way.

Now, granted, it's a month of my time gone, but it could have been worse.  It could have been a few years.  When a story doesn't work, I step back and think of the pros and cons, and hopefully learn something.

Pros.  I know that I can work very diligently.  Just about every day, I'd tell myself that I'd meet my three-page quota come Hell or high water.  For the most part, this was done.  Early on, I committed to two pages a day, but then I upped the dosage.  So as far as getting the work done, I feel very good about that.

Cons.  I strayed too far from the premise of cannibalistic celebrities.  That was a cool idea to me, but after the first big murder scene around eighty or ninety pages in, the story shifted from cannibalism to murder and covering up that murder.  I don't like murder stories.  I don't think they're bad.  I just don't find them interesting.  Again, boredom is infectious.

Once again, I'm proud that I got through a hundred pages of Eat the Rich considering that I was making it up as I went along, but I think I need to try something else.

We'll see what happens.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Eat the Rich: Day 35

I'm out of town this weekend visiting friends in Thousand Oaks.  Naturally, I brought my computer with me because I thought I'd be able to get in a few pages.  Wrong.  This is not a weekend for writing.  Instead, it's a weekend to refill my well of anger.

I checked in at the hotel yesterday afternoon.  It was a comfy $50 a night.  Unfortunately, the reason it was so crappy was because it was such a dump.  My non-smoking room had clearly been smoked in; there were cigarette burns on the bed.  Some of the lights didn't work, and one of the plumbing fixtures was loose and ready to fall off the wall.  It looked like a place rented out to film amateur porn for the internet.

Luckily, I've got a friend in Camarillo who's kind enough to let me crash at his place for the weekend.

Now, I'm hanging out at a Starbucks (yes, a Starbucks) trying to get in some writing while my friend is out running errands.  Some of my friends are proud hipsters, so I figured I'd join the club.  Sipping coffee in a Starbucks, in one of those antique-looking chairs, while typing away at my novel.  That's hipster, right?  That's in no way corporate.  Right?  Right?!

The writing isn't getting done today.  Starbucks is a magnet attracting annoying people, and by that, I mean high school students, two of which sat across from me chatting and rating which of their classmates are hot.

One of them said, "My baby said hi to me."  Her friend said, "Awww, I want a baby!"  I'm hoping their talking about boyfriends rather than skanking it up and getting preggo.

There are other annoying people, but those two have taken the cake so far.  So, no, the writing is not getting done today, not when I'm in the middle of the Annoying Zoo surrounded by so many exhibits of stupidity.  It makes me feel normal.

Besides, after working hard on Eat the Rich for the last month, getting to a hundred pages, I think I need a few days to unwind and let myself reset.

But come Monday when I'm back at work, my well of anger will be refilled thanks to the patrons of Starbucks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Truby's Plot: The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

In this analysis of Truby's plot in relation to Full Metal Jacket, we've covered how to story connects to each of the seven basic elements of story.  Now we move on to the extra steps.  This can be a bit murky because a writer is free to use or discard any or all of these steps.  I certainly don't expect Full Metal Jacket to use all of them.

If you look at Truby's plot points in a list, the first item is self-revelation, desire, and need all packed together.  This might seem repetitive since we've gone over them already in previous posts.  You're right.  It is.

The point of putting these three things together at the very beginning isn't to learn something new about how the story will evolve.  It's to give the writer a target to aim for.  Without that goal, you'll wander around blindly.  For me, putting these elements down on a single note card gives me a convenient touchstone that I can quickly glance at when I need to remind myself what every other plot point is trying to get to.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Earlier this week, I had a discussion about writing with a student.  English 101.  She's been having trouble working through the mechanics of her compositions.  She showed me one of the pieces she worked on and we went through it sentence by sentence with me offering at least two or three alternatives for each one.  What she seemed to have trouble with was making up her mind about which option to choose, like there was a right answer.

There is no right answer beyond complying with the grammatical rules.  Gut instinct makes up for the rest.  That's the basis of style.

Look in your closet.  Look in your friend's closet or your parent's closet.  What do you find?  Pants.  Shirts.  Shoes.  Sweaters.  These are fundamental items of clothing.  Among them are different variations.  Jeans versus slacks.  T-shirts versus button downs.  Boots, sneakers, and sandals.  Everyone takes these basic elements of clothing, finds the differences that appeal to them, and then makes those differences their own, absorbs them into an aspect of their personality.

The same thing goes for writing.  The rules of grammar are the foundation.  You spice things up with your vocabulary and use of imagery, and sometimes by breaking a rule or two every now and then.  And you experiment.

Experimentation is never easy, but it's how your find the style that works for you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Eat the Rich: Day 17

Been steadily working on the novel with only Saturday and Sunday giving me a hiccup.  I was at a friend's barbeque on Saturday and had a family dinner on Sunday, so those two events combined didn't foster much writing time for me.

One thing that I've changed since the last update on Eat the Rich was my daily page quota; I'm trying to get in three pages a day instead of two.  Hey, it'd be great if I could get in fifty pages, but there's only so much that I can do.

I've always said that the first draft of anything is the one that sucks the big one.  It's a philosophy that won't die any time soon.  Weaving scattered images into a coherent story out of seemingly thin air isn't easy, so three pages a day is a fair pace for me.  Like I said in my Numbers post, you've got to keep a perspective on things.  A few pages a day doesn't sound like much, but they add up over time.

Steinbeck says you should try to write just one page a day.  I wonder if he'd call me a workaholic.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Truby's Plot: New Equilibrium

If battle and self-revelation are the climax, then the new equilibrium is synonymous with the denouement.  In this stage of the story, the hero uses what he's learned through self-revelation and applies it to the world.  In essence, everything has gone almost back to normal, but the hero has been changed.

Full Metal Jacket has equilibria on a more somber note than what some people might expect, but that's only because of the nature of the climax in each half.  Just as the story of Oedipus ends in tragedy due to his negative self-revelation, Joker's story in Full Metal Jacket reflects how he changes by the end.

In the Parris Island segment, he has completed training but is still passive enough that Pyle kills Hartman.  As such, Joker completes recruit training with uncertainty, knowing that he's not fully prepared for the life of a Marine.  Later, in Vietnam, he accepts the role of violence in his profession, cemented by his killing of the sniper.

Joker completes his tale with one of the iconic lines of the film: "I'm in a world of shit, yes, but I'm alive."