James Bond and Writing – Stay True to Originality

SkyfallI’ve just been to see the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, and it was fantastic! The reason for my enthusiasm and excitement is that it reminded me of the first James Bond film I saw as a teenager with Roger Moore: the style, the story, the baddie and the circumstances James found himself in were all reminiscent of the ‘old’ bond movies.

Now, what I mean by the ‘old’ Bond movies is the way they made me feel about James and the way he handled himself and his dire predicaments. Personally, I’ve found the last few films a little prissy. James didn’t behave the way I expected or wanted him to; he was a little too soft around the edges, not gritty enough, not hard-assed and commanding the way I like him. In truth, he’s always been somewhat of a bastard regarding women and casual to the point of arrogance in the way he deals with his enemies. In real life I would be shocked with anyone who did what James did, but in the movies I can indulge my darker side and embrace the brutality of the hero that is 007 – he always takes care of the baddies the way I would want, and my thirst for revenge and justice matches his step by step throughout the movie.

In Skyfall the ‘old’ James Bond is back: he’s tough, he survives being shot, careening down a waterfall and nearly drowning, the usual hail of bullets, explosions, hand-to-hand fights (the fight scene on the island with the baddie, Javier Bardem, and his goons is simply spectacular!), nearly being taken out by a subway train and eaten by a giant lizard . . . The list goes on, and each time he’s cool, calm and collected the way I love him and expect him to be. I don’t expect James to be squishy and emotional – even with his women – and at the end of the film, when he does eventually reveal that he is capable of deep emotion, it is extremely appropriate and moving as it should be.

James Bond

Throughout the film references are made to ‘the old ways’, especially concerning the gadgets, weapons, and, in one of my favourite scenes, when he goes to a storage garage and reveals an iconic car driven in at least five other Bond movies over the years, a silver Astin Martin DB5. The car still has its ejection seat and the machine guns hidden in the front bumper, and it’s a memorable moment in the film when he uses them to wipe out a bunch of bad guys. (Read here on how the car was prepared for the film). He gets given a tiny “radio” as he calls it that makes his location known to headquarters (MI6); all the technology is very low-key concerning Bond but very high-tech concerning the style of the film. They have to, after all, keep up with the times, but whereas it was always such a huge feature in past films, in Skyfall it is rather underplayed and the film focuses more on Bond himself.

But James is as I remembered him from Roger Moore’s and Sean Connery’s days: suave, sexy, dark, powerful, a killer, a lover, a little insane, and, of course, fearless – although in one line of the film he does say that (paraphrased) he knows fear in all its forms. He certainly isn’t tortured and full of angst – no sir, he’s untouchable and un-killable, the way we women like our men and the way you guys dream of being.

Sean Connery

Sean Connery

My point: the ‘old’ Bond always works best, and when it changed it lost its intensity and effectiveness, and, for me, its power and ability to keep me thinking about it and ‘feeling’ it long after I’d seen it. Even while writing this I still feel the excitement and wish I could be part of all the action and be as invincible as James!

I’ve read many blogs about style and how new writers struggle to find their personal style in the beginning of their careers. Some opinions I’ve agreed with and some not, but always there’s this underlying truth that always makes me relax and justify my faith in myself and my abilities.

Those of you who read my blogs regularly know that I am a great believer in writers trusting in their unique abilities and not doubting what comes to them without struggling or searching for it. Sure, we are all influenced by other authors whose works we love to read and we learn a lot from them, especially if they’ve ‘made it’. Personally, I learned from writers I admire like Stephen King, Terry Brooks, Raymond E. Feist, David Eddings, and even Clive Cussler, whose stories are fast-paced and gripping and the kind of books you don’t want to put down. Even though I write Epic Fantasy I never, ever waffle because I hate reading works that do, therefore part of my writing style is to keep the action moving and the excitement levels pumping constantly, and very rarely do I go into back-stories, although sometimes it’s necessary, but I keep them as short as possible because I know my reader will get bored like I do.

An Aston Martin DB5 as seen in Goldfinger. Exp...

An Aston Martin DB5 as seen in Goldfinger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again, my point is this: when you start writing for the first time – and even if you have been doing it for a while and you’ve lost the original and unique feel of your work – write the way you want to; write what comes to you without fighting with yourself, without trying to emulate someone successful that you admire. Everyone has a story to tell and only YOU can tell it YOUR way! Yes, you are going to be influenced by the authors you read, but tell the story with your own voice. Don’t use the same words and phrases they do because then you’re not being original, are you? And when your reader reads your work you don’t want them to compare you to someone else, do you? I certainly don’t want to be told that I write like Terry Brooks, but I do want to be told that my stories are as moving and memorable and exciting as his, yes!!

I often speak about the magic that comes from that place no one can explain or define whenever I sit down at my computer to write my books. I can’t tell you where my ideas come from and how scene by scene my story eventually turns into an entire book, it just does because I’ve learned to trust in what comes without questioning it or, worse, doubting it.

The trick is to be original – this I say believing that there’s nothing new under the sun – but you can write your story in a way that is completely original. Just remember, when you pour your heart and soul into something it can only be unique; no one else can emulate what you’ve created because no one thinks and feels and has the same life experiences as you, and that means you have to trust in what’s inside you, in what flows through you and turns into those magical words your readers will love. We all believe in our stories, that they are amazing tales filled with adventure and power, but to make it truly special you have to trust in your uniqueness – you have to be ORIGINAL!

English: Sir Roger Moore

Sir Roger Moore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s why Skyfall is such a fantastic film because the creators and writers and director went back to the old look and feel and character of Bond we all fell in love with – if you’re old enough to remember Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan that is 🙂 Being original works! Keeping true to the style of the writer (Ian Fleming) and his vision is what made the 007 films so incredibly popular and the huge hits they were – until they (the well-intentioned filmmakers) started messing around by trying to become too ‘deep’ and contrived, trying to go with the times by being conscientious and touchy-feely! But with a character like James Bond IT DOESN’T WORK, so what makes you, dear writer, think that by changing your originality it’s going to work for you??

Stay true to yourself and believe that your own style will come with practise and as you develop and study your craft from the masters and from those authors whose works you love and admire. Never stop learning your craft, but be careful not to allow your unique style to be overpowered by anyone, even the masters!

Skyfall Cast

Skyfall Cast

I love hearing your opinions. Please share them with me by leaving a comment!

(Skyfall Images courtesy of Google Search)

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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 December 12, 2012, in Believe in Your Writing Abilities, Just Begin!, You are a Creator! Believe it! and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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