Great Writing Tips from 007’s Ian Fleming…and My Own Secret Mission!

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NaNoWriMo is only three days away and I’m preparing myself with the same mental focus, strategic planning, and tactical positioning as James Bond before a mission!

My mission is secret in that until it’s done no one will know what it’s about. But once the end is reached then the results will be very clear – and I will, of course, be sharing it with all of you!

My Strategy: Layout, characters, timing, knowing my end goal, plotting the pathway in minute detail on how to reach that end goal, lots of sleep beforehand (and during), pacing myself and heightening my awareness in my approach that will allow me to write with precision and deliver the perfect few pages everyday to create a great story by the time the 30th comes along! And, finally, full instructions for the husband to let me be while I write, even if it means forgoing or delaying a meal or two i.e. no communication outside the study while The Mission is in progress.

My ‘Weapons’: Laptop, mouse, notebook, pens, Wordweb, memory stick (to save my work in multiple places in case that dreaded enemy, The Great Computer Virus, destroys the entire mission in one terrible blow!), tea, snacks, clock, good chair, cats for cuddling to keep me sane if or when despair and frustration threatens, desk fan in case things heat up and I start sweating (more likely to happen closer to the end of the month if I start lagging behind), loose-fitting clothing, and a pocket knife – just in case I need to punish the table by carving out the names of characters/scenes/ideas I’ve forgotten to add right in the beginning of the dang story @#$&!!!! … Er, sorry, that last bit was written by the maniacal Monique who sometimes loses it when things don’t go her way!!! (He-he, just kidding!)

I believe that mentally and physically I am ready for this, and as a writer I believe this to be the greatest challenge I have yet faced. And I am confident that I will succeed – maybe not by completing the entire novel (although I perform at my best under pressure, therefore I might just do this thing), but certainly by achieving beyond what I presently think I can in the given amount of time allowed for my mission. It’s about discipline and focus and commitment – to the mission and to myself, trusting and believing that I have it within me to achieve my own personal goals and feel great about whatever I’ve done when the end of the month comes along.

Below are some great writing tips by the author of the James Bond books to help you prepare for your unique mission. I certainly hope they help you. These tips are, of course, not only for NaNoWriMo, but also for everyday use.

English: Ian Fleming oil painting

English: Ian Fleming oil painting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The quotes below are taken from a 1962 article authored by Ian Fleming himself:

Lesson 1: Have a routine

“I write for about three hours in the morning—from about 9:30 till 12:30, and I do another hour’s work between six and seven in the evening. At the end of this I reward myself by numbering the pages and putting them away in a spring-back folder. The whole of this four hours of daily work is devoted to writing narrative.”

Ian Fleming wasn’t the first to say it, and he hasn’t been the last. It’s vital to have a fixed writing schedule and to keep it sacred. Plan around it the same way you plan around your job or classes. The important thing is to set aside time to write every day, whether you want to or not, whether you have ideas or not, and whether you think your writing is any good or not.

Lesson 2: When you write, WRITE!

“I never correct anything and I never go back to what I have written, except to the foot of the last page to see where I have got to. If you once look back, you are lost. How could you have written this drivel? How could you have used “terrible” six times on one page?

If you interrupt the writing of fast narrative with too much introspection and self-criticism, you will be lucky if you write 500 words a day and you will be disgusted with them into the bargain. By following my formula, you write 2,000 words a day and you aren’t disgusted with them until the book is finished, which will be in about six weeks.

There’s a time to write, and there’s a time to edit—and the two should keep their distance. If you’re in the zone, don’t stop to look up a capital, research Chinese history, or figure out whether that comma’s appropriate. You’ll wear the editor’s cap later; for now, you’re a writer. Just do your job.

Can’t decide on the perfect name for your hero? For now, he’s Stanley. The perfect name will hit you days later while you’re eating dinner, and you’ll jot it down in your notebook. You do always carry one with you, don’t you?”

Lesson 3: Strategic use of detail:

“My plots are fantastic, while being often based on truth. They go wildly beyond the probably but not, I think, beyond the possible. Even so, they would stick in the gullet of the reader and make him throw the book angrily aside—for a reader particularly hates feeling he is being hoaxed—but for two technical devices: first, the aforesaid speed of the narrative, which hustles the reader quickly beyond each danger point of mockery and, secondly, the constant use of familiar household names and objects which reassure him that he and the writer have got their feet on the ground.”

It’s a technique Fleming used to great effect in all the Bond stories. Knowing he was dealing with plots that would strain the reader’s suspension of disbelief, he piled on familiar, real-world elements to add credibility to the more imaginative elements. In other words, don’t just call it a knife; call it a “second-pattern Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife with a 7-inch blade.”


Category:Daggers – the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would love to hear how you have planned for NaNoWriMo, and even if you’re not doing it then please feel free to share your own personal tips on what works for you! For NaNo, make a checklist and plan a strategy, and then share it with the class so we can learn from each other and be better prepared! There are only three days left!!!


About SwordBearer

I am a fantasy and science fiction author. I have published three epic fantasy novels in a tetralogy with Xlibris Publishing, and a sci-fi short story, The Door. All are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major online retailers. The Door is also available on Smashwords. I love reading everything from King to Koontz, Cussler to Brooks and Feist, to name but a few. Before writing became my life I was a professional ballet, jazz/contemporary dancer in South Africa. Writing and storytelling have always been passions since childhood, and I want to share them with the world!!

Posted on October 29, 2012, in Believe in Your Writing Abilities, Just Begin!, Tools to Help You Get Started, You are a Creator! Believe it! and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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