With ten pages left to go on editing SOS United States, I’ve started to ponder the next steps in this project. First, I’ll start to research agents and publishers in the political thriller field for their submission/review process. Just like the world of film, each company has a different process—one that must be followed. I’ll also start to look for an editor for that necessary work. Although, if the manuscript is picked up by an agent/publisher, they would have their own editors to bring to the manuscript. Another step will be to review self-publishing companies. While this method was a bit taboo years ago, like the film industry, it’s been standardized to make it a worthwhile commercial option.
Regardless of how the book winds up in the market, it’s a project completed. There is a certain satisfaction in bringing an idea to life. Whether you are committing it to paper or screen, knowing that it will eventually be shared with an audience is a thrill like no other. I remember so many years ago, when my first book Frozen Assets arrived in my office. Opening the box from the printer and seeing months and years of work bound into hardcover was something I’ll always be immensely proud of.
Works like this don’t happen overnight. So many want to be an accomplished screenwriter or author. What they must understand is that it’s hard work. Work done the old-fashioned way. Research, outlines, writing, rewriting, etc. etc. I’m not a slow or fast writer, I’m more methodical – midrange if you will. I like to move along, but I’m also thinking of the story, the characters, and various arcs. For SOS United States, I found that while the end of the book is basically the same as the screenplay, there are differences that I think give the story more heft, or as I like to say gravitas.
That is what makes a writer a writer. We think of an idea, and we execute. We labor over writers’ block to come up with a way of presenting a story that’s new and fresh. One that we hope will entice the reader to turn a page or to sit through the next minute of a movie. When we consider the centuries of creative writing and the great works that have been created that continue to entertain audiences to this day, I think we all shudder at the thought that something may terminate those efforts of genius—I speak about artificial intelligence.
Unless you are living under a rock or perhaps the planet, artificial intelligence, better known as AI, has now permeated nearly every industry. The threat to creative writing is the AI may soon replace humans. I have no interest in a book, screenplay or other creative work that has been written by a computer program. Yes, AI is wonderful for customer service, research and the like, but even that takes away from the originality of the human process. By another example, we know AI is actively working in the legal profession, but the mind of a skilled lawyer who has a feel for the law that shapes our society, is something that should never be relegated to AI—less, AI begins to regulate us.
I don’t believe in living in the past. We know that developments in AI and a host of new technologies make our world a better place. But that being said, we must be sure that technology doesn’t replace the gifted thought, creativity and compassion that makes up the human being. For while we created this new technology, let’s not have it recreate us.
“Machine intelligence is the last invention that humanity will ever need to make.” – Nick Bostrom
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.