Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Organic Writing versus Structured Writing 

There are  two structural writing models.

1) The Organic Writing model. An excellent book on this method is Steven James' "Story Trumps Structure".  Steven James, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell and Dean Koontz write organically. I also write using the organic model.

2) The structured model used for novels and screenwriting, a process I find too constraining for my storytelling.  

I also write screenplays requiring a very structured process in order for them to be submitted to producers.  But this isn't a blog about screenwriting. I went down that rabbit hole for two years. Learned a lot.

No, this blog is about fiction writing and the rabbit holes that I joyfully follow as a practicing organic writer. 

I see stories in my head, like I am (present tense) watching a movie. I move my characters to their goal, but make sure it isn't too easy.  I am sometimes as surprised as my readers how my stories turn out. Some (most) characters have a mind of their own.

By the way, your sense of morality will come through your writing. If you are an evil person, that will be obvious. If you are a gentle person, that will shine through. In my stories, good (almost) always triumphs over evil. Con men are caught and prosecuted. Good finds luck on their side. And the power of God is delicately inserted when necessary.

So know yourself before you begin to write. Or pay the price when you submit your story for publication. 

But back to organic writing. I like to start with a theme or idea, then think about what characters would be fun to watch. Let's say my theme is "Justice". Do I want to show someone being treated unfairly and then getting the last laugh? Maybe I want to show a bully or a con man (woman) getting punished. The possibilities are many. Now, let's add a sub plot to the story: a romance or comedic element. Woody Allan made these famous. 

Writers using a more structured model spend lots of time BEFORE writing their story or novel. Character profiles, outlines, detailed notes and the use of writing software are all part of a structured writer's toolbox.  (note: I have to admit I did do some of this when writing my novel "The Da Vinci Diamond" and my murder mystery "The Sonoma Murder Mystery" but mostly because I needed to keep characters, plot and clues in the correct place for the reader.  Otherwise, I just sit down and write).

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Well, I'm pausing in my short stories to write some television scripts.  I have two scripts currently being reviewed by producers.  It takes longer to get it reviewed than to write (producers receive hundreds of scripts and thousands of pitches each year).  But I've had some very complimentary responses to my work, so I'm encouraged.  Here are the two comedy pitches (summaries) for the scripts I have written.

Preheat the Microwave.Com

Preheat the Microwave.Com is a quirky comedy about senior citizens.

SETTING: Serenity Garden, a senior citizen home in New York City.

NUTSHELL: Seinfeld meets Waiting for God

LOGLINE: The eccentric and elderly residents of Serenity Garden (motto: “you don’t have to wait until you die”) overcome the challenges of daily life in spite of making mountains out of molehills.

MARIA MARIANI: (70s, short Italian, like Rhea Perlman)
LISA MARIANI: (30s, attractive, type A young business executive)
TONY ROSSI: (20s, attractive maintenance man)
SAM CHANG: (70s, Asian)
ALICE CHANG: (70s, Asian)
JEFFREY CHANG: (30s, Asian, Sam and Alice’s grandson)
RALPH GOLDBERG: (70s, Jewish, heavy set)
JUAN LOPEZ: (30s, Latino, police officer)
ISABELLA LOPEZ: (70s, Latina, Juan’s mother)
GREGORY COOK: (70s, African American)
PANDORA COOK: (70s, African American)
GINGER WHITE: (70s, owns Mr. Pickles, the ugliest dog on four legs)

Dear Exec,

My name is Jerry Guarino and I’ve written a comedy pilot for a television series called “Serenity Garden”.  It takes place in New York City with a cast of diverse characters.  The series may remind you of Seinfeld and the British comedy Waiting for God.  It’s a comedy for and about the baby boomer generation reaching their seventies.

The pilot episode, “Preheat the Microwave.Com” introduces the main characters and their senior home Serenity Garden (motto: you don’t have to wait until you die).  Maria Mariani tells her granddaughter Lisa that you have to preheat a microwave before cooking.  Lisa is so amused by the concept that she enlists Tony, the maintenance man, to install cameras around Serenity Garden, capturing the funny goings on there.  But it all backfires when the video feeds are reversed and the elderly residents witness an R-rated tryst between Tony and Lisa.

In subsequent episodes, the stories revolve around the quirky adventures of the cast.  Of course they are all concerned about their mortality, but treat it in the most humorous way.  A romance or two will develop.  The seniors view their end of life challenges as reasons to overreact, making their children and grandchildren crazy.  They fight for their independence and against bureaucracies of any kind.  Don Quixote lives.

I’ve also tried to infuse this very American story with some British comedy, as depicted in shows like Waiting for God and the Yes, Minister/Prime Minister series.  Both of these shows featured an element of bureaucracy.  In Waiting for God, Tom Ballard contends with the senior center’s administrator.  In Yes, Prime Minister, the honorable James Hacker fights Sir Humphrey Appleby’s red tape in the British government.  In Serenity Garden, the seniors battle against the bureaucracy of the senior center.

It’s really a comedy about everyday life, reminiscent of the Seinfeld stories.  As a lifelong Seinfeld addict, I wondered how these type of characters would change when they reached their seventies.  Serenity Garden is my exploration of that question.

Preheat the Microwave.Com is an adaptation of my short story by the same name.  

Big Harbor

An FX-style comedy set in modern day Gig Harbor, (near Seattle) Washington. 

NUTSHELL: It’s Wings meets Newhart.

LOGLINE: The Wilson family fun website is inundated by postings from a wild three day party, leaving Linda and Bill to stop it before the parents return.

BOB and NANCY WILSON:  (married 60s) run the Bed and Breakfast
DOUG and LINDA WILSON:  (brother 26 and sister 24) run the water taxi service
UNCLE JAKE:  (50) runs a pirate fishing charter
DEBBIE WILSON:  (daughter 22) works at the B&B
BILL:  (30s African American) maintenance man for the water taxis and fishing boat
LAURA:  (30s Asian) owns a Japanese steakhouse next to the B&B
MARIA:  (20s Latina) a sexy housemaid works at the B&B
SALLY:  (40?) a crazy seaplane pilot   

Dear Exec,

My name is Jerry Guarino and I’ve written a comedy pilot for a television series called Big Harbor.  The series may remind you of Wings and Newhart.  The Wilson family owns a B&B, a water taxi service and a fishing charter; the fishing charter is run by a crazy uncle who thinks he’s a pirate #ARGH.  The children run the water taxis and work at the B&B. As a variety of oddball characters visit the B&B, it’s up to the Wilson parents to manage the visitors while the children are looking for true love.

In the pilot, titled “Family Fun Day”, eighteen sexy tech executives invade the B&B for a three-day working party. Unknown to the children, the parents are facing some financial challenges.  Doug’s ex-college girlfriend is seducing him with a story about an affair she had in France.  Uncle Jake hosts six Japanese businessmen, armed with cameras.  They join the techies in a wild party, documenting the debauchery on the Wilson Family Fun website.  It’s up to Linda and Bill to stop the web postings before their parents return from an anniversary dinner.

All of the main characters are well defined in Family Fun Day, setting up the series for a number of episodes of love and laughter.  It was designed to appeal to all adult age groups, from the older B&B crowd to the new tech savvy millennial singles.  If you liked Wings and Newhart, you’ll love Big Harbor.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Clubs and Book Signings

Well, it's 2017 and technology continues to impact authors, their writing and distribution of books.  I have used authorgraph (link below) to digitally sign eBooks.  The other two listed here may be of interest.




Goodreads is my favorite author site.  I have done many paperback book giveaways.  They are currently testing a Kindle eBook giveaway; I will be able to giveaway hundreds of eBooks when that is up and running.

If you have a book club that may be interested in reading one of my books, please let me know.  I will send you a digital copy that you can share with your club.  I would recommend one of these books.

The Da Vinci Diamond (novel)

Cafe Stories: relationships (love stories)

The Best of Cafe Stories (best short stories)

Please check out my website http://cafestories.net

or my Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006C4TO9Q

for more information.

Jerry Guarino

Monday, February 6, 2017

Reviews starting to come in for "The Best of Cafe Stories"

Top Customer Reviews

on January 28, 2017
Jerry Guarino, the author of "The Best of Cafe Stories" has a way of writing about his characters that makes them very believable. He tackles emotions along with discoveries to where your invested in each of their outcomes. Always entertaining with plot twists that surprise you. This and his other works are all worth the read. I highly recommend this book.

on December 28, 2016
This story collection is varied in terms of character and plot, but there's a strong element of compassion for the characters that runs throughout them. Long-lost loves is a frequent theme: People reconnect after years or decades with differing results but those feelings of nostalgia are well-evoked. The Old Man and the Sea is about a couple of middle-aged people who lie to each other about themselves, go through adventures good and bad, and end up finding what they need. Dream a Little Dream is another take on that feeling of loss in midlife that made me smile. Guarino's stories -- even ones involving murder -- have a kind-hearted perspective combined with plot twists that were entertaining and made me feel good about reading them.

on February 4, 2017
As a fan of Jerry Guarino's work, I've followed his writing for a while. I'm really impressed with the quality of the stories in this particular book. Jerry's fiction is always well paced and well researched, with lots of interesting little twists to keep the reader riveted. Give this collection a try. I'm sure you'll be as impressed as I was!

on December 23, 2016
The author, Jerry Guarino brilliantly assesses the human experience with a diverse compilation of plotlines, which creatively envelope a sprinkle of romance, mystery, suspense, and intrigue as well as espionage. Jerry continues to captivate his readership with his series of thought-provoking storylines that are highly relatable, compelling, and downright entertaining. Pandora H. King, Author

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Even a little is too much...

...I'm talking about explicit sexual language in writing.  I have come to the conclusion that while it may have its place in certain stories, I'll find a way to eliminate it from my writing.  Several of my author/editor/reader fans have said I write great sex scenes, but I'll find a way to write great sex scenes without mentioning specific acts or body parts, you know like some of the romance writers do.

For those who are wondering, these scenes appear in the Detective Tony Mariani series:

The Da Vinci Diamond (novel)
The 7 Hills Technology Group (#2)

but I will even take them out of future stories within that series.

I want to be able to market my work to all ages and using adult content in one story means a teenager can't (or shouldn't) read one of my collections.  For the most part, my writing is PG-13, similar to the content in a movie.  There will be sex, and certainly love, in the story, but it will be handled in an appropriate manner, so as not to offend anyone.

You would think in this day and age of  explicit music lyrics and videos, I would be fine with writing racy scenes and explicit descriptions, but I decided to opt out of that content.

I welcome comments on this decision as well as criticism. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Da Vinci Diamond 2nd Edition released

I've done some reformatting on the paperback so I'm releasing a second edition of my 5 star novel "The Da Vinci Diamond".  The kindle version remains the same.

"The Da Vinci Diamond" is the first in a series of Detective Tony Mariani Mysteries.  What is the secret of The Da Vinci Diamond?

Three beautiful Russian women, along with Italian and Russian mobsters are all after The Da Vinci Diamond, a million dollar blue gem once owned by the great Leonardo himself.

San Francisco Police Detective Tony Mariani follows all the suspects and uncovers clues from the Bay Area and around the world. The evidence eventually leads to The National Museum of Rome, the original home of the gem.

The women, a mistress, jewel thief and assassin, provide plenty of action, murder, intrigue and romance as they manipulate others to find the diamond. What is the key piece of evidence that unlocks the mystery? How does Mariani recover the diamond and arrest the conspirators? You’ll never guess the unpredictable ending but you’ll love the ride.

The second story is "The 7 Hills Technology Group", released as part of my collection "The Best of Cafe Stories".  It is the story of a North Korean terrorist group planning an attack on San Francisco.
The third story is titled "The Case of the Chinese Coins" due to be available in April, 2017.  A Chinese cartel is running an underground economy using counterfeit coins to move drugs around California.  This case links to a victim in the previous story.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cafe Stories: relationships now has a second edition

Decided to add ten stories to my book "Cafe Stories: relationships". The paperback and kindle versions are now available.

The second edition adds these stories:

The Angry Vegetarian
Boxes and Ladders
The Lighthouse
First Love
Apple Juice
Software Bugs
TV All the Time
Love Choices
Fresh Contacts

All of my stories were previously published in literary magazines around the world. The second edition now has 37 stories! Anyone who purchased the first edition will get the second edition for free.