As I near the halfway mark on my first edit of SOS United States, I take the same process with the edit of a novel as I do with my screenplays. With the first draft of anything I write, I reread the copy at least twice so when I complete a project, it’s relatively clean—at least that’s the goal.
But sure enough, when I let a draft sit for a few days before I go back for a first edit, I pick up a variety of things that have been missed, don’t make sense, or just need to be reworked. But this, of course, is a good thing. Generally, my aim is to have a solid manuscript complete before it goes off to an editor.
I cannot stress the importance of retaining a good editor. This should be a person who is great at their craft, enthusiastic to read your work and will provide solid feedback (good, bad, or indifferent). Nothing is worse than reading a book, screenplay, or article that you can tell hasn’t been properly edited. Many years ago, I withdrew from an acting project as the filmmaker missed a glaring plot hole in his screenplay. When I brought it to his attention, he didn’t want to hear about it. It wasn’t worth being part of that project just for the sake of getting some footage for my reel.
Speaking of film, Facebook reminded me of a memory from my first feature film Justice Is Mind. In the movie, one of the primary characters states that “Thought Identification Procedure,” aka mind reading, was approved by Congress in 2023. Although Congress has yet to approve such a procedure, I must wonder just how far along this technology is from a science fact point of view.
When I do my weekly search on “mind reading technology” articles for Justice Is Mind’s Facebook page, it’s clear that this technology is pretty far along. Even if the video memory component isn’t as developed as it is in the film, it’s certainly moving in that direction. Perhaps, at some point, I will revisit with the experts researching this technology. The sequel to Justice Is Mind, In Mind We Trust, addresses numerous ethical issues that these present-day articles are reporting. But one thing is certain, we know that science fiction has often led to science fact.
Finally, while visiting Newport yesterday for a Cars & Coffee event, I found I had some extra time on my hands and visited a museum I’ve never been to before – The Newport Art Museum. This architectural gem with its variety of artwork in numerous mediums, is a must-see. I was particularly impressed with the Conflict and Remember exhibit along with galleries at the Cushing Memorial Gallery. Although I only had an hour to explore, plan to spend two.
The Final Third
Last week I started on the final third in the novelization of SOS United States. At this point, I don’t see anything getting in the way of my goal to complete a draft by the end of March.
I will say turning a screenplay into a novel, isn’t as easy as it sounds. In a screenplay the entire process is visual. Of course, there are numerous methods in cinema to ascertain what a character is thinking. But in a novel, it can be described in detail along with their surroundings. When I immerse myself in these fictional worlds, I want the audience to experience what I’m thinking. Case in point, the bunker the President and Prime Minister find themselves in. Both the screenplay and novel were inspired by this real-world property in the Adirondacks.
Writing this novel has been a wonderful exercise to really understand the story, the characters and the world they live in. While I still believe the screenplay holds its own, the novelization of the story has grown both in character development and world building. Had the screenplay not done well in the festival circuit, I would probably be revisiting it a bit. But as it did win a variety of awards, I don’t want to tinker with it beyond contemporary updates to technology, etc. There is such a thing in this creative writing process as over analysis and self-doubt. It’s taken some time to learn as a writer, but at some point, you just need to literally put the idea to bed as a completed screenplay or book.
I wrote the screenplay for SOS United States nearly a decade ago. Unlike the screenplays and films in the First World Universe or Justice Is Mind and the sequel In Mind We Trust, SOS United States was a standalone. I’m not exactly sure where the original idea came from, but it does combine my interest in espionage, spies and intrigue in governments and multi-national corporations. I look forward to the day when the book and movie are released to the world.
Speaking of the First World Universe, I’m delighted to report that First Signal has garnered over 1.3 million views on YouTube! The film continues to spark all kinds of conversations on the VOD platforms and social media channels. While the range of interest (or non-interest) is all over the place, the bottom line is that nearly two years after its release, First Signal is still being talked about. Whether viewers love it, hate it or fall somewhere in between, all a filmmaker (or author) can hope for, is that the work is talked about.
I believe part of the driving force behind First Signal is the continuous reporting on UFOs, UAPs, mystery balloons and other atmospheric and aerospace anomalies, that are crossing every news service and social media platform. It also doesn’t hurt that the U.S. Department of Defense is publicly involved in the identification of this ‘phenomena’ and have set up an internal office to address it. Who knows, maybe elements of First Signal are true!
In closing, I took some time this week to revisit my first feature film Justice Is Mind. I was preparing some writing samples for a presentation and came across a variety of things linked with this project. When I found the filmmaking seminar presentation I did on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth in 2014, it brought a smile to my face. I was reminded about the challenges I had to get Justice Is Mind off the ground and then realized that if you work hard enough, stay focused and stay determined anything is possible.
“The difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer.” – George Santayana