Playing Soldier

Book Cover


1960s & '70s,1980s & '90s,2000s

F. Scott Service

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When a young, imaginative dreamer is deployed to Iraq, he soon realizes the stark difference between reality and fantasy when he is forced to reexamine his entire belief system while his domestic life falls apart and he resolves to become a conscientious objector.



Short Summary

A hot, mid-summer day in New England, the main character finds himself at a crossroad, both on the road and in life. Something is growing within him, yearning, thirsting. Something he can't identify yet, but as he steps on the gas, heading toward his hometown levee, he feels the answers will come.

Passing the same crossroad from the beginning of the story, after a walk on the levee, the main character has discovered what was yearning within him and is ready to embark on a new journey in life.


Montana, Iraq, Connecticut

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Internal Journey/Rebirth,Voyage and Return

Plot - Other Elements

Coming of Age,Philosophical Questions,Meaningful Message

Mature Audience Themes

Language/Profanity,Substance Abuse

Main Character Details

Name: Scott... or Scotty

Age: 5 to 40

Gender: Male

Role: Emotional

Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Complex,Engaging,Modest,Outspoken,Visionary,Romantic,Sarcastic,Educated,Honorable,Insecure,Naive,Strong Moral Code

Additional Character Details

Name: Rita

Age: 30

Gender: Female

Role: Emotional

Key Traits: Aspiring,Aggressive,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Greedy,Blunt,Outspoken,Unapologetic,Educated

Additional Character Details

Name: Gary

Age: 30

Gender: Male

Role: sidekick

Key Traits: Masculine,Charming,Complex,Confident,Crazy,Religious,Blunt,Empathetic,Engaging,Outspoken,Funny,Unapologetic,Lone Wolf,Sarcastic

Additional Character Details

Name: Fred

Age: 50

Gender: Male

Role: mentor

Key Traits: Modest,Complex,Uneducated,Religious,Faithful,Honorable

Development Pitch

I see this story as very human, something everyone has grappled with at one time or another in his/her life. The act of chasing down dreams, being true to who you are, and living life to the fullest, is something that is easily lost when the pressures of society are so strong to fit in, to be something you may not want to be. As I wrote for the back cover, Playing Soldier begins as innocent emulation and approval, but eventually spirals into the calamitous loss of everything I had built as an adult. Faced with a grievous divorce, post-traumatic stress, homelessness, substance abuse, and the failure of everything I had willed myself to believe was truth, one night communing with a loaded pistol became the mechanism for self-clarity. From that darkest time, only elemental deconstruction and reconstruction of identity would allow me to forge a reclamation with my true, original self. Visceral, with breathtaking candor, my story powerfully captures the unlearning of expectation, the celebration of individuality, and the nourishing of self-acceptance once buried by cultural stamps of approval and societal convention. Braided with humor, courage, fear, despair, and hope, my unflinching, evocative story of passage into adulthood, the Iraq War, and beyond, speaks to anyone who has confronted adversity from without and grappled for their dreams from within.

About The Author

A former sergeant with the Army National Guard, Scott is a full-time author. His first memoir, Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier’s Personal Journey in Iraq, is a transcription of the handwritten journals he kept during his tour of duty and details not only the turmoil of war, his divorce, but how he became a conscientious objector. His second, Playing Soldier, takes on a broader scope capturing his lifelong journey of unlearning expectation, celebrating individuality, and nourishing self-acceptance once buried by cultural stamps of approval and societal convention. His books have won Readers' Favorite Five-Star Awards and have been featured in Publishers Weekly magazine, as well as others. Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier's Personal Journey in Iraq was awarded the Pacific Book Review Star for a memoir of excellent merit. Playing Soldier won the 2021 IndieReader Discovery Award for Memoir. It also placed Finalist in the 2021 National Indie Excellence Awards for New Nonfiction and the Book Excellence Awards for Memoir. Having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional/Technical Communication and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, he has also had experience with editing, journalism, and desktop publishing. He lives in New England and you may connect with him at:

Target Audiences

Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: MindStir Media, LLC

Year Published: 2020

Hard Copy Available







A young boy is forced to grow up in a cold New England family so he finds solace in his imagination. He is forced to face the harsh realities of war and must find his way back to his true self after deployment. After a lot of work on himself and solitude he is able to form new bonds and a happier life with a more well-rounded perspective.

Overall Rating


Point of View


Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: FAIR

Characterization: FAIR

Commerciality: FAIR

Franchise Potential: GOOD

Pace: FAIR

Premise: GOOD

Structure: FAIR

Theme: GOOD

Accuracy of Book Profile

The book profile does a good job summarizing the story especially explaining the themes which are not as apparent so spread out within the sprawling narrative. The character details list the characters as "emotional" or "sidekick" but it might be better to also define the protagonist and other relationships differently so it is clear who is the focus.

Draw of Story

The themes about learning to let go of expectations is relatable and intriguing. The introspective nature of the protagonist makes the story feel familiar and inviting.

Possible Drawbacks

The characters outside of the protagonist can feel somewhat static or sometimes flat as there are so many most are not able to consistently be in Scott's life enough to show transformations of their own. The plot is quite sprawling with different themes so defining a singular main message is more difficult with such vast space in between.

Use of Special Effects


Primary Hook of Story

The hook is that Scott lives life one way but must learn to adapt his way of thinking in order to survive the harsh realities of his life falling apart and being deployed in Iraq. There is a strong emotional investment in his resilience.

Fanbase Potential

This could potentially have a decent fanbase for an audience already interested in soldier psychology and war films about the aftermath rather than just focus on the actual fighting.

Awards Potential

If the themes are more defined this could potentially some awards potential given the range of experiences of the protagonist and the fresh take on what it means to be a soldier in the modern era.

Envisioned Budget


Similar Films/TV Series


What’s New About the Story

The originality of the story stems from the transformation of Scott to a soldier and then back to a civilian.

Lead Characters

Scott is hopeful, open to new experiences and introspective. His mother is somewhat selfish but well-meaning. Fred is wise and helpful.

Uniqueness of Story

This has some nice themes with more development. The pacing for such a large spanning timeline with intricate details lulls a bit at times and certain side characters are missing transformations.

Possible Formats

Film: Streaming, Indie, Studio TV Series: Streaming, Cable, Network

Analyst Recommendation



While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.

Tips for Improvement

Either showcasing and focusing on either transformation solely the theme might have a greater depth and clearer message rather than trying to discern all of the lessons from such a large epic story. Adding inner conflicts to all side characters will also help them feel more dynamic to match the complex protagonist.