About Mario

My photo
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.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Outlines Actually Are Necessary

Stephen King is going to disagree with me, but...plotting and outlines are totally necessary.

I don't feel 100% thrilled to say that.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm all for letting the floodgates open.  I agree with Mr. King on at least his friendly criticism of fellow writer John Irving; I don't want to know the last sentence of a story.  That sentence is going to change.  But hey, to each his own, right?

Plotting isn't something I advocate for all fiction.  A short story or flash fiction can work without it, especially with flash fiction when you're writing the whole thing in one sitting.  My short story Roar Shack was done without a plot.  I just meandered from one monster to the next.

However, The Coast - the novella I recently killed off - could have used a stronger outline.  How do I know whether or not a story needs an outline?  My cork board.  If I end up plotting a story on a cork board, chances are it's going to be a longer work.

Even on the cork board, it's still a rough cloud of note cards.  I did write a beat sheet for The Coast, but at the time, I had no idea what a real beat sheet was.

The UCLA class I'm taking - Beginning Writing for the 1-Hour Spec Drama: Building the Story and the Outline (that's a mouthful) - has shown me it's hard work developing a story outline, but once it's set, the rest is just a matter of connecting the dots.  I'll write another post at the end of class next month to give you guys a better idea of the process (since I'm still learning it from start to finish).

The bottom line is that it's easier to find and fix plot problems when you see the bones of the story.

"The Coast" is Dead

I gave up on The Coast today.  It's been dragging for too long.  I lost interest in it.  And since there's no agent or editor eagerly awaiting it, I figured I had no obligation to stick with something that was slowly becoming a chore for me.  Whenever I find myself coming up with excuses not to work on a piece, that's when my subconscious is telling me it's time to move on.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hump Day

If ever there were a Wednesday that truly feels like Hump Day, it's today.  I started a second round of internship at the company I worked for earlier this year followed by work on the Document in the afternoon, and finally class at UCLA in the evening.  And yes, I am in class right now...because I'm a rebel like that.


There's been very little room in my writing schedule for other work this last week, which happens too often in my opinion.  But that's life, and if you don't like it then you're in the wrong species.  I think I'm feeling bogged down right now because I burned through a lot of energy early in the day with the internship.

Maybe I'm just letting my brain run its mouth so I don't accidentally nod off in the middle of class.  And if I do, thanks, guys, for putting up with me.  On the other hand, maybe it's a good thing.  Maybe it's a lesson for everyone else.

One of my bosses - and really, when you're an intern, everyone is your boss - but one of my bosses very unsubtly gave me some pointers, the biggest one being to never put stuff off for later.  The people who excel in the entertainment industry are the ones who get things done as quickly as possible, because you never know how much work you'll have the next day.  So, writers, get through all you can today.  It's one less story to edit, to brainstorm, to hound your friends for feedback over tomorrow.

Following that is another piece of advice, which is drive.  When I first met this particular boss, he seemed very hyper and all over the place.  Then again, he was also trying to get three months of work done in the month he had before leaving town.  Now, I don't think he necessarily enjoyed being under the wire so much, but I do think he enjoys the drive.  "I wake up every day with this pent-up energy," he said.  "I need to do something with it."

That started catching on to me this morning.  I must have spent five or ten minutes being lazy in bed, but that was it.  I got my ass out of bed, worked out, and drove to work early enough that I was actually one of the first ones there.  I waited another ten minutes or so before calling my boss to double-check on where everyone else was.  Those ten minutes felt pretty odd because sitting around doing nothing suddenly began feeling uncomfortable.

So even though I do feel tired and ready to drop, I also feel pretty satisfied with how productive my day's been.


How've you been?

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Document

Anyone who knows me knows I hate research.  I like learning about new things, sure, but gorging on a white whale of info is like saying I'm going to sit down and listen to every Rolling Stones album.  It's fun at first, but I'll go nuts after the first few albums.

What gets me cringing about research in particular is the repetition of it.  Starting a new story, if there's research involved, I'll likely end up reviewing half a dozen documentaries I've seen many times before.  Again, not fun.  Doesn't even have the illusion of fun.

I don't know why it took me this long to realize it, but I've finally figured out the best thing to do is to do all the research I would ever need for every project at one time, a compilation of all my notes into a master document that I can refer to as needed.  And I've given this the very imaginative title of...the Document.  Spoken of in hushed tones as if it's the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

So far, the Document's reached about forty pages, and there's a lot more to come.  Part of me isn't really looking forward to it, but if I brace myself and get it done now, I know I'll be thankful for it later.