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.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Being a Better Tweeter

Someone on my grad school's Facebook page posted today about Cosmopolitan's fiction opening.  And yes, I did consider applying, but the deadline is in a few days; too short a time for me to plan out a year-long project.

Something in particular about the posting caught my eye: it included three Twitter posts per day from the protagonist's point of view.  It got me thinking about how could better manage their Twitter.

Consider this: Twitter, like all social media, requires that you actually use it.  But there are extremes to this.  On the one hand, you could say nothing and have a pointless platform that ultimately serves no purpose of any kind.  On the other, you could inundate the world with meaningless gibberish about every little thing you're doing.  In polite society, the latter are known as Twitter whores.

So I don't recommend being on Twitter every minute of the day, because, uhhhh, you should really have a life beyond that quirky little bluebird.

Daily, I would suggest a minimum of three to four posts: one bit of advice, one bit of encouragement to others in your field (writing or otherwise), one bit of randomness to jazz things up a little, and one work-related update perhaps every other day at least.

Furthermore, I would also suggest tagging someone once a week in a post.  For example, letting your followers (that sounds cult-ish) know about a friend's new publication in case they'd like to follow that person, or promoting another friend's upcoming reading.

In the end, I think going this route helps a writer stay active enough on their social media to keep others updated while also giving them some distance in order to get back to work.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Does Hemingway Work?

Not long ago, I heard about this app called Hemingway.  It's an algorithm designed to make a writer's style more like that of Ernest Hemingway.  You copy and paste a piece of writing, and the program will tell you which sentences are hard to read, which sentences are really confusing, where you have too many adjectives and adverbs, and where you're using the passive rather than active voice.

Turns out it doesn't always work so well.  There was a news article about how the program found errors when faced with samples of Hemingway's own writing.

Is the Hemingway app trustworthy at all?  I say yes, with some fine print.  Hemingway is not designed to make you a better storyteller.  Sorry, folks, but you still have to provide the brain sweat.  What the program will do is help economize your writing.  Its creators stress that the program isn't designed to know when you intentionally break the rules, when you really do want that adjective.

I've used Hemingway since I first heard about it in February.  It's helped me trim the fat on projects that have a specific word count such as reviews and short stories.  I've also noticed that it's got me thinking more about active than passive sentences, though passive ones still slip through from time to time.

It is just a tool, and it's feedback is no different than suggestions you'd get from the spell-check on your word processor.  You have the luxury of using it or ignoring it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Word Trackers

We need to talk word trackers because I think they will help keep you on target with your projects.

Between tutoring and internship, I had the idea this weekend that all I really need to get my work done is to keep an eye on how many hours I need to spend weekly on writing.  The words would just fall into place, right?  Wrong.  See, I tried that this morning and found myself writing only about a hundred words in the span of an hour.

Time doesn't make a story.  Words make a story.

Word trackers are a great tool to have because they compare your target quota and progress and compare them to your deadline.  That's key because even if you don't have a set-in-stone deadline by an outside client, you still need one if you're doing freelance work.  For example, I wrote my new short story Roar Shack for Penumbra Magazine, which had an April 1st submission deadline.  The editors weren't hammering at my door for my own material, but I imagined that they were.  In turn, that motivated me to hurry up with the story.

Even if you don't have a market in mind - if you want to write a story and submit it to wherever - you still need a deadline to keep you on task.  Think of it this way: markets pay on acceptance or publication, which means they need to get your work to make a call on it, which means you need to get that work written and in their hot little hands.

I think Svenja Liv has the best word trackers, and you can find TONS of them on her website.  All the formulas are programmed into the spreadsheet so you don't need to waste hours on them.

Personally, I think her 2012 spreadsheet for NaNoWriMo was the best of the best.  It's very user friendly, easy to customize, and has all kinds of extra features to help with plot and character developments.  I mainly use the word tracker and progress chart to keep taps on my deadline.  The novel info tab is good if you've got multiple projects and need to refresh your memory on which story you're working on, and you can adapt the chapter page into a beat sheet if you wish.  I also hold onto the character list just in chase I need a quick glance at who's who.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Alpha and Omega Sentences

John Irving said he needs to know the last sentence of his stories before he can start them.  They give him a target to aim for.  That makes sense, but as I began a new short story earlier this week, I started to think that Irving's logic is in reverse.

I need the first sentence, something to build off of.  The last sentence is always a problem because it's the culmination of everything that came before it.  And even if you're a plotter and got your story roughed out on note cards, the finer details of the story - tone, specific events, little hints planted earlier, etc. - might not match up to that perfect finale.

Put another way, Irving's method is like building a house before laying the foundations.  I'm not saying he's wrong.  What works for him works for him.  I'm just saying that I don't understand how you can expect to reverse engineer from a single sentence.

I guess John Irving and I could settle the matter with a wrestling match.  On second though, scratch that.  Irving may be in his seventies, but I'm pretty sure he could still kick my ass. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It IS a Long Hard Road Out of Hell

A friend of mine told me about how she was having a rough day and missing deadlines like Greedo misses Han.  I felt bad for her, especially since I've been having a pretty slow day myself with just a little fiction work and some editing on an article.

The slow days suck.  Always have.  Always will.  It's like any other job.  There's not a one that's all sunshine and puppies everyday.  If there is, tell me.  I'd love to apply.

The best thing I can recommend - and I know it's gonna really suck ass - is to simply push on as best as you can.  Getting even a tiny bit of work might seem like nothing, but it's that much more than you had yesterday.  More power to you.  Make sure you're keeping the momentum in a forward direction.  If you're regressing, then perhaps you really do need to take a day or two off to chillax.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Silence is Golden?

I went to my third meeting of this writing group last night, and I have to admit that I'm feeling a little apprehensive by the silence of it all.

There weren't many people last night.  Thank you very much, How I Met Your Mother's underwhelming finale.  But last week was all quiet too, and it's kind of got the hairs on my neck standing on end.  It feels weird being the guy who likes listening to loud music, like we're all supposed to be part of some silent group mind jacked into a juggernaut.  We talk about our work at the end of the session, but even then it's uncomfortable communicating with strangers about what I'm working on.

Here's my real problem: if silence is the only thing needed, then hell I can do that on my own.  Does that make the group useless, or should I give it a little more time?

*Throws hands up in the air*  I dunno.  It just feels a little weird.  Grumble, grumble, grumble!