Ian Fleming was an English author, journalist, and naval intelligence officer. He was best known for his James Bond series of spy novels, and the children’s story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Use these five writing secrets from Ian Fleming in your own writing.
I’ve been waiting for the release of the new James Bond movie, Spectre, for months now. To get my 007 fix, I’ve been reading some of the Ian Fleming novels again, as well as a great biography on this iconic British author.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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