5 Writing Secrets From Ian Fleming

The Man With The Golden Pen — 5 Writing Secrets From Ian Fleming


I’ve been considering why his books are so successful and I’ve come up with five lessons we can all learn from the master of the spy thriller.

5 Writing Secrets From Ian Fleming

  1. Blend fact with fantasy. Facts, Fleming believed, were always clearer than people. Some of his scenarios, gadgets, and guns were pure invention, but most were based on reality. This is what gave his books a ring of authenticity and made his fantasy worlds believable to the reader.
  2. Shake and stir. Fleming based the character of James Bond — as well as M or Miss Moneypenny and so forth — on real people he
    knew from his past in naval intelligence during World War 2. They were never based on just one person but rather on a composite of different people.
  3. Yes to Dr No. The villains in James Bond novels are often the most memorable characters in the story. Fleming knew the value of a good ‘baddie’: deformed megalomaniacs, sadistic assassins, wealthy industrialists, they are either psychologically damaged or physically marked in some way. What they all have in common is that they’re horribly frightening.
  4. Write with style. Fleming’s novels are rich in visual details and visceral emotions. They offer an electrifying, vicarious adventure for the reader. The author always exaggerated characters, places, and incidents while still making the story believable. It was this style that made the books perfect for the medium of film.
  5. Don’t mess with the formula. Readers of James Bond always knew what they were going to get in a 007 novel — Fleming offered a consistent brand that captured the world’s imagination. When Fleming had the love interest, Vivienne narrate The Spy Who Loved Me, readers were not happy. Similarly, when the entire action of Moonraker was contained to the UK, readers wrote in that they expected Bond to travel to exotic locations. Fleming was always keen to listen and respond to his audience’s needs.

PS: Fleming was literally the man with the golden pen. He even had gold top made for his Bic pen.

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course or join our course in Johannesburg.

 by Anthony Ehlers

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  1. Connie Morrison

    I never thought of combining the characters of people I know for my own. I’ll have to try that.

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