The climax in my latest story in the First World Universe involves a pivotal speech from President Colton. While it was a speech to cover a particular event in 2015 it also had to speak to certain moments in the film that reflect a bit of double messaging. These can be challenging to write as many bases need to be covered in a short period of time. Yesterday, I finally finished a draft of this speech so I can continue, and finish, the story.
To get motivated and energized to write these types of speeches there are two American Presidents I look to – President Kennedy and President Reagan. In addition to having great speechwriters, both these Presidents knew how to deliver a speech and captivate an audience. The goal of any President is to appeal to a wide audience not a narrow one. Kennedy is perhaps best remembered for “We choose to go to the Moon,” while with Reagan I remember the “Challenger Disaster” as I watched it on TV.
Now with this section of the script written, I should have a first draft completed in a couple of weeks. I do realize, however, that I’ve written a mini-series with this latest installment or probably two scripts. Whenever I set out to write a story, I aim to have the beginning and end already in mind. I let the rest sort itself out as the characters and moments almost start to write themselves. For me, I’d rather have more story than less when I reach the end.
By example I recently watched the 1979 version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that ran as a seven-part drama on BBC (315 min). I loved the depth of story. However, I also greatly enjoyed the 2011 film of the same name (127 min). For me so many contemporary films shortchange the audience in story and character development because they focus on special effects. One recent exception to this I feel was Dune. With an exceptional story that was beautifully photographed, I think it hit all the marks of a great film.
Authoring an original story is not easy. From the characters to world building, everything must be created. For me sometimes a new story just explodes on to the page (Justice Is Mind) while others take a bit of time to think out (First Signal). There’s no right or wrong process in the creation of an original story, but the craft should never be rushed; e.g. when I think of the number of times a new bit of dialogue came to mind after I let some copy sit for a couple of days. But speak to a hundred writers and you’ll get two hundred opinions on their process!
A few months ago while searching for First Signal locations I came across The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, NH. A museum that honors Alan Shepard and Christa McAuliffe with a “mission is to inspire every generation to reach for the stars, through engaging, artful and entertaining activities that explore astronomy, aviation, earth and space science” is right up my alley of interests.
Last Sunday I took a day trip to visit the museum. When you first arrive you are greeted by a 1:1 scale model of the Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7) that launched Alan Shepard to space. When you see a life size replica of the space program standing in front of you, it puts those early years of the space program into perspective.
For space and science enthusiasts, this museum really gets it right. You’re first greeted by a NASA funded tribute wall to Alan Shepard and Christa McAuliffe before proceeding to the main exhibits. Some of the exhibits include the experimental XF8U-2 Crusader Jet, the Mercury capsule and developmental path and images of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The resolution of the images this satellite has captured make you feel that you are actually on the Moon. Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe what you’re staring at. Considering that part of First Signal’s story revolves around satellites, I found the CATSAT story to be particularly interesting.
Of course no science museum is complete without a planetarium. The Discovery Center’s 103 seat theater did not disappoint! I arrived just in time for the Take Flight show that brilliantly animated the history and science of aeronautics. After the show, there was the space shuttle simulator (it’s not easy!) that was very engaging. But I felt like I was in a scene from The Andromeda Strain when I took a picture of myself in infrared. Between the static exhibits and the interactive, the museum really has something for everyone. One thing I enjoy the most about developing new projects like First Signal is the research. It takes you to places that you might not normally go.
While I was at the museum, I couldn’t help but remember the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger that took the life of all seven astronauts (including Christa McAuliffe). It reminded me of a quote I used in First World from President Reagan’s memorial speech about the accident. In one line he summed up what the dedicated men and women in the space program represent, not only to the United States but the world.
“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.”
– President Ronald Reagan; Houston, TX; January 31, 1986