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  • I’m writing a James Bond-esque spy (excluding the misogynism). I know full well that real spies aren’t as chic and cool as the percieved image of them are, so how do I write a spy that is more realistic but still retains the cool spy image? She (yes it’s a woman) works for the MI6.

    What is, “cool?” I don’t need an answer, I need you to ask that question of yourself.

    The problem with Bond isn’t that he’s a misogynist, it’s that he has a casual disregard for everyone around him. James Bond is not a good person. He’s vicious and vindictive. Some adaptations try to soothe the edges, but at the character’s core, Bond is a sneering imperialist. (Ironically, the 2006 adaptation of Casino Royale even comments on this in passing.)

    My intro to American Politics instructor started her 100 level course with the comment that, “everything is politics.” James Bond is a character that carries a very potent, and political, statement baked right into the core of Ian Flemming’s power fantasy. Bond is the last gasp of the British Empire insisting that it, alone is suited to rule the world. Bond’s anglocentrism isn’t cartoonish, but it’s always there, and it informs a lot about how he behaves.

    The worst part about Bond is how the fantastical elements further this. It’s easier to couch the semi-fictional SMERSH (СМЕРШ) as simple cold war posturing. However, in an effort to make the novels, “apolitical,” Flemming transitioned to SPECTRE, an organization that was patterned heavily off the Italian mob.

    Anyone else see the problem here?

    By making Bond’s foes into cartoonish supervillains, it endorses his worldview.

    How do you deal with this? By necessity, spies need to have a functional understanding of international politics. If you’re wanting to work around a real place, take some time, and read up on the background. Some of that is the basic demographics, and culture, but also get conversant in the history, and current events. It’s what a real spy needs to do before operating there, and as a writer, something you need to do as well. Ironically, the CIA Factbook is still an excellent overview. and can be a starting point before digging into more specialized sources.

    Stepping back, James Bond, as a character, isn’t the problem, it’s the genre that Flemming created. I would actually argue that, in spite of being a detestable piece of shit, Bond is actually a fairly well written character (mostly.) (There are some details that don’t work, or are downright comedic, such as the sheer amount of alcohol he consumes on a daily basis, or comparing his daily athletic regimen with how much he smokes.) The real danger (and this has plagued the film adaptations) is lifting the character without really ripping him apart to figure out what’s going on under the surface.

    If you’ve never read Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country, it is an excellent spy comic. Granted, it’s about as far as you can get from a James Bond superspy series. Worth noting that series protagonist Tara Chace is a Special Operations Officer for MI6.

    Beyond that, the early seasons of Burn Notice do an excellent job of blending practical tradecraft into a fairly slick spy series. It rarely trends into international man of mystery territory, but there are some discussions on the subject. Really, if you want an easily digestible spy primer, you can learn a lot from Burn Notice.

    Finally, John le Carré is another easy recommendation. Usually, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, is people’s introduction, but that’s actually halfway through a much longer series.

    It may occur to you that none of those series are even in the same genre as Bond. There’s a reason, if you want to write a spy, you need to understand who they are as a character. The problem with Bond is that he almost never breaks from his cover identities. You can’t get an honest answer out of him about, basically, anything. Most of the superspy genre (and a depressing number of the Bond films) run with that, and accept the cover at face value. So you’re left with a character who only makes sense as a complete sociopath.

    So, what you probably want to do is come to grips with the kind of person your character really is, and then you get them to pretend to be someone else on top of that.

    Spies are difficult characters to pin down. The superspy genre tends to gloss over the surface read and leave you with superheroes and unfortunate implications. There’s isn’t a quick route into the mindset of a spy, but, stepping back from Bond, and looking at more grounded spy fiction, before continue will help you find that mindset.


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    Q&A: The Perils in Writing Spy Fiction was originally published on How to Fight Write.

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  • There’s no proper way to go through endings, looking for an appropriate way to end things defeats the purpose of ending things, it’s chaos, don’t try to shape chaos into something that pleases your narrative, let it get ugly. All the ill flavored endings make way for magnificent beginnings.

    #excerpt from a book i'll never write #writeblr#words#writing advice#life#thoughts#spilled words#writers #writers on tumblr #words words words #wordporn #is it worth it #word post#wordgasm#my words
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  • Exposition is hard. Most writers, even professional ones, have a difficult time with exposition, especially when your story is just beginning.

    So, what do you do when you have a lot of exposition, but don’t want to info-dump or a not a lot of time?

    • Let your audience wonder, then reveal the answer later. Wait until they want to know. This also prevents you from info-dumping. It is okay for your audience to be curious and wonder. Often, this is actually good. You want them to want more. The only thing is you should answer their questions at some point.
    • Don’t explain everything. The audience does not need to know every minute detail of how your thing works. Just what is needed to move the plot and make it believable. Details are great, but if it’s not natural or the audience doesn’t want to know, then cut it.
    • It’s cool to front load some exposition in a prologue. Do what is needed to enhance the narrative. If that means a prologue, do it. Especially if you’re doing a first draft. You can cut it later and reposition the exposition after some feedback.
    • Get feedback and see what people don’t understand.

    EX. Avatar: The Last Airbender

    They outright use a prologue. Outright, they tell you the basics of what you need to know, then elaborate more in the first episode (Katara and Sokka’s opening scene, Aang’s opening scene, etc.)

    EX. The Dragon Prince

    They, too, use a prologue, but also don’t reveal things all at once. They explore the plot and magic system over the first 3 episodes, then actually sit down and have a sort of exposition time in a scene between Rayla and Callum that acts as a breather after the exciting episode and active scenes from episode 3. Notice the structure of when we get this episode. We, as the audience, need a breather scene to get off the high of the last episode. That’s a great opportunity to share some important exposition and Callum acts a character without knowledge we need and Rayla has knowledge we do need. This character relationships is able to answer the questions we have.

    #writing#writing tips #some of this is for me too #writing advice#writing community #this week has been basically exposition bootcamp for me
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  • image

    “I could be pretend to be someone else for the night,” Misha muses, the starlight gleaming in his hair. “I could be anybody, I wanted. Just for the night.”

    I glance at him, taking in the sight of him wrapped in my coat. The coat’s dark hue and severe cut disguises him, like a bird in burrowed plumage. If I did not know who he was, I might perhaps think he were one of the many faces at on the street. He really could be anybody.

    It would be nothing to slip away from the street and wander into a nearby club, to lose ourselves in the crowds and chaos. I want to grant his wish, to whisk him away and try my hardest to put a smile on his face. I want to show him every part of my world, allowing him to forget even for an hour about the last few days and all he still has to do.

    He’s a Prince, Nikolai. I have no choice but to shake my head. After all that has happened with the anarchists, I can’t risk taking him halfway across the city. I cannot deny that it pains me to see the disappointment in Misha’s eyes or the way he shakes his head at himself, as if scolding himself for having such a foolish dream. 

    TLP Taglist

    @reignnyx @writinglyra @pressedpapyrus @serpentarii @thevintagelover @dameschnee123 @donutwithinadonut @mikaelsondragon @giuliawritesanddoeskpop @sunaora @mayawritesbooks @anomaly00 @trapped-inadystopianovel @hysteriwah @underwoodinc @theyoungreignwriting @ashen-crest @pen-and-inks @strawstories @nerdygoblin @ginghampearlsnsweettea @snapdragoncrown @intellectualintelligent @ezra-ezra-ezra @storyhole @rosemarys-for-remembrance @justyouraveragewriter @asingledropofwinter

    #Oh but the angst #Nik's catching feelings #The Lost Prince #Tlp #The Lost Prince excrept #TLP excerpt#TLP #the lost prince taglist #wip: tlp#writing#writing resources#writeblr#writing reference#writing advice#writer#writer's problems#spilled words#writer's life#characters
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  • Add More Lore With Sayings | Novel Writing Chat

    Sayings are a quick way to add to a mood of a story while also throwing in lore.

    There is “May the force be with you” from Star Wars, “May the odds be ever in your favour” from Hunger Games, “Winter is coming” from A Song of Ice and Fire, and so many more. These are all sayings in books that are repeated often enough by characters that readers recognize them right away.

    Of course sometimes these sayings are put in for the importance of merchandise, but most often it is to…


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  • Why in the year of our lord 2021 are people still giving the “write every day” advice

    #???? #shut up #ok not to be hostile sorry #but stop it #writeblr#writing advice#writeblr advice
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  • Hey I’ve Done Artsy Things! Here’s Some Advice…

    Hey I’ve Done Artsy Things! Here’s Some Advice…

    I had Chili with Pancakes. This has placed me in an expansive mood. It could have been A Mistake.

    As stated in my bio, I’ve been published professionally and have had a novel be received to some critical acclaim. I’ve produced two movies available on Netflix (DVD only) with a clip appearing on “Americas Funniest Home Videos”. Performed sketch and improv comedy on stage. Lived a life and had some…


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  • I’ve finished Gail Carriger’s writing-craft-book “The Heroine’s Journey” today and what a revelation it has been. This book gave me so much insight in what kind of stories I write and why I’m currently so terribly stuck on that one WIP.

    In short: The Hero’s Journey is about the solo hero, it’s a story of loneliness and revenge. The Heroine’s Journey is a story about connection, about building a network, a family succeeding by helping each other. (The terms Hero/Heroine have nothing to do with the gender of the protagonist by the way.)

    Now in the fanfic I’m currently writing, the source story calls for a heroic moment of self sacrifice (which isn’t really one because the player character survives of course) and I have been struggling so much with the build-up to this moment. (Why oh why do I put so much writing energy in a retelling? Who asked for this?)

    As I read Gail’s book, I finally realized why I had so much trouble. I was trying to cram a Hero story into a Heroine’s Journey and it just didn’t fit. My guy has been smacking people over the head for 28 chapters to get everyone together and overcome prejudice and religious bs to save the world, and here I am, trying to get him to abandon everything for some stupid hero moment. No wonder it didn’t work.

    I’m thoroughly recommending this book, especially for writers who write stories with “found family”, “the gang gets together”, “me and my friends gonna kick your ass”,  and that sort of thing. You know what I mean? That shit we love? That’s the Heroine’s Journey.

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  • Since the post about questions to ask your genderfluid characters is still popular apparently, I decided to do something similar. Enjoy!

    (For anyone who doesn’t know, a demiboy is someone who feels partially - but not fully - connected to masculinity and being a boy/man. Or, partially a boy/man, partially another (possibly undefined) gender. The same is true for a demigirl, but with being a girl/woman instead)

    • What aspects of femininity/masculinity do they embrace? 
    • What aspects do they reject?
    • Do they consider themself to be trans or nonbinary?
    • Do they use the term demiboy/demigirl?
    • If not, do they have a different term that they use? If so, what?
    • Do they consider themself to be different from others gender-wise?
    • What pronouns do they use?
    • Do they have just one set of pronouns, or are they comfortable with multiple?
    • Do they go by their given name, or a different name?
    • Was discovering that they were a demiboy/demigirl a longer process of searching and self-discovery, or was it something they discovered fairly readilly? (I cannot spell, sorry)
    • How did they discover they were a demiboy/demigirl
    • Do they tell others that they’re a demiboy/demigirl?
    • If someone doesn’t know what it means to be a demiboy/demigirl, do they often go out of their way to explain it, or do they ask/tell the person to look it up on their own?
    • Do they experience dysphoria? If so, what kinds? (note that not all non-cis people experience dysphoria, and that’s completely vaid)
    • What is their stance on shapeshifting as a magical power (I know it’s random don’t judge)
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  • Every character needs a name, but naming characters is so hard sometimes. You want to think of a unique name that’s perfect, but also not too hard to pronounce or read. It’s a long-long process. I’ve had so many character name changes between drafts, but just like in real life, names mean something, so your character should have the perfect name for their character. So, here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re naming characters in your story. 

    What is the character’s race and/or ethnicity?

    Race and ethnicity can have an important role in naming characters. Giving your Vietnamese character a traditionally Vietnamese name can be a good way to show your reader that the character is Vietnamese. Some writers also do this in fantasy settings where you can’t just say a character is Chinese or Nigerian. But, make sure you research ethnic names if you aren’t familiar with the ethnicity. Not all African names are the same. There are over 40 countries and 100s of different tribes and ethnic groups with different naming practices. Also, personally I wouldn’t just google Kenyan baby names or something. Google can give you some weird ass answers. Try and find a site that actual Kenyan or whatever ethnicity people you’re researching have contributed to. I also recommend fantasy name generator.com because they have so many different ethnic names that have already been researched! 

    Does this name have significant meaning? 

    I’m not big on giving my character’s names that are subtle foreshadowing to their character arc, but I think it’s really cool when author’s do that! You could also throw in a little bit of backstory by saying that the character’s parents named them something that means ‘strength’ or ‘wisdom.’ In a lot of culture, it’s traditional or normal to name your child with a trait that you would want them to have in the future like ‘honor’ or ‘truth’ 

    Do any other characters have similar names?

    It can be so confusing for your readers if you have three characters named Maria, Mary, and Maia. If they’re reading fast or even reading normally the names can look alike, and they can get confused on which character is which. Especially when you have a large cast of characters, giving them all distinct names can help give them a little more distinction in the eyes of the readers. The only time I would say it’s okay to have characters with really similar names is with siblings. A popular thing in books and in real life is for siblings to have names that start with the same letter or sound similar. 

    What era is this name most popular? 

    I’m not saying that the name Maud isn’t cute because I actually love that name a lot, and I have used it in a story, but it just isn’t a common name in the 21st century. Now in the 18th/19th century, there would probably be 10 Mauds in the same town, but you would have to research that. A good place to find popular names from certain eras at least in the Unites States is the Social Security Database for every decade. Also, I personally don’t really like seeing super modern names in fantasy stories unless every character has a modern name. But if your story is full of people named Zaleria, Geminara, and Tanila, and then you have a character named like Josie or something, that can pull the reader out of the world you’ve created unless you have a reason for that character having a modern name. 

    Bonus Tip: Say it Out Loud: 

    I promise you’ll thank me later. Sometimes a name looks really good on paper and you can make it all the way to the third draft of your WIP before you realize that it doesn’t sound the best out loud and also doesn’t match the aesthetic of your WIP. That is definitely not based on a true story….Anyways, saying the names out loud will give you a feel for how the character would say the name or how their friends and family would say it. Also, if you want to manifest in the future for when your series is being turned into a hit TV show, how would it sound to the audience? If someone says the name really fast, is it unintelligible and do all the vowels run together? Just some food for thought!

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  • #WriteTip It’s a great challenge to boil a story down into a single line. If you can do it, then you’ve got a clear hook. If not, rethink your pitch/story. Try crafting a logline at different stages of your project to ensure you have a terrific hook. #amwriting #amrevising

    #WriteTip It’s a great challenge to boil a story down into a single line. If you can do it, then you’ve got a clear hook. If not, rethink your pitch/story. Try crafting a logline at different stages of your project to ensure you have a terrific hook. #amwriting #amrevising

    #WriteTip It’s a great challenge to boil a story down into a single line. If you can do it, then you’ve got a clear hook. If not, rethink your pitch/story. Try crafting a logline at different stages of your project to ensure you have a terrific hook. #amwriting #amrevising
    — marchsoloway


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  • Last night I dreamed that @anotherwellkeptsecret visited me and gave me some creative advice. They sorted through several of my drafts and kept saying “To make this work you’ve got to have a well kept secret. You’ve always got to have a well kept secret.”

    I’m sure as soon as I figure out what that means I’ll have this whole writing thing on lock. 😄

    #personal#dream #i meet the most interesting people in my dreams #dream interpretation#writing problems#writing advice
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  • #writing advice #anyone who wants to do a PhD just know that this is absolutely NORMAL #I haven't met a single candidate who hasn't felt like smashing the computer and throwing in the towel #year 1 makes you think you might have this #year 2 makes you think you fuckin DONT #year three is a mix of apathy and existential dread #and then anything after that it's just fuckin' normal it's your new life now
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  • Writing tip: if you’re looking for a name, find a couple aspects of the character and try creating a suffix or prefix from other languages such as latin, greek, germanic, etc. Such as a basilisk named Ostirex. Using both Venom and King in latin to form a new name. Rex meaning king and Ostium meaning venom.

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  • Colour-Coding Folders (or Labels) in Scrivener-Part 2

    Colour-Coding Folders (or Labels) in Scrivener-Part 2

    Note: This is in Scrivener for Windows.

    This is for projects that have a large cast and/or many subplots, projects that are complex.

    First, follow steps one and two in my last post, Colour-coding Folders (or Labels) in Scrivener-Part 1 [INSERT LINK].

    Once you have all your folders made and labeled, you’re ready to “nest” your folders. Right click on the folder you want to “nest” (or stay…

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