Okay, let’s admit it. We all would like to write A James Bond novel. The problem is it is really more difficult that it seems. Many novelist have tried to capture the same Fleming spirit, but not really have come close. The last novel I could read only a few pages. It wasn’t happening. It started out okay, I was just turned off by the part when Bond grabs his iPhone.
The Devil May Care started out strong as well only to collapse as a literary version of Die Another Day. Benson Bond novels were okay, however he could not separate the literary Bond with the movie Bond.
To the lucky writers I give you this advice in your future endeavor.
Bond – James Bond
People tend to have different interpretations of the original James Bond. Generally this no different from other genres, but I have never seen such distinct differences of opinion. I purchased a copy Empire magazine last summer in anticipation of Skyfall in which one of the writers referred to Fleming’s Bond as a “sociopath” for “MI6”. I quickly discarded the magazine notwithstanding the $10 I paid.
I tend to believe that real Fleming Bond was stoic and sober and perfectly grounded in the work and duty he performed for the Naval Intelligence Division of the Ministry of Defence, enjoying the sybaritic lifestyle whenever possible. Not to say he did not have ups and downs. I tend to believe that “real” Bond floated in similar fashion as the current mood as his creator. The later novels turned darker as Fleming’s legal problems and health took a turn for the worse.
Remember that Bond was a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, so the man may leave the military but the military never leaves the man. For those who favor the modern Bond, I would avoid the prissy metrosexual claptrap and psychogenic rubbish.
Girls, Girls, Girls
It is quite obvious that Mr. Fleming preferred blonds with large breast and ample curves. Think Kate Upton. Generally it seemed whenever a brunette appeared in the novel, she was a harbinger of death or evil or bad luck. Women with blond hair appeared to be innocent or angelic. Ginger heads proved to be more sexually adventurous and ambiguous. Keep this in mind when developing your female love or lust interested.
If you do included a sex scene, and it is graphic, make sure the woman achieves an organism. I honestly believe that if Bond cannot sexually satisfy a woman he should hang up his Walther-PPK for good. There has been some debate as to how to write a sex scene. My best advice would start out with foreplay then gradually go to the act without turning your novel into a porno.
Villains and Henchmen
I think having good villain development is important. Your villain is going to pretty much determine the story line.
Mr. Fleming’s villains or Henchmen seem to have at least a German father – Hugo Drax, Dr No, and Red Grant. It was interesting to have Goldfinger a paraphilia who suffers from insomnia, constipation, and impotence, and perhaps a porn addict but other than the Baltics not much is really known of him. Christopher Wood did of very good job of describing Karl Stromberg from childhood, even though his novelization was not to the level of Fleming. Notably they are rich in order to afford to inflict damage. They seemingly have short red hair.
I really like Red Grant. Red Grant is probably a character ahead of the times, long before it was determined that individuals who kill small animals for fun turn out to be psychokillers. I always wondered why Fleming never had a Satan-cultist as a Villain, although some people say that LeChiffre was modeled after Aleister Crowley. Rosa Klebb was an interesting villain, but I would discourage a female villain in a classic Bond. A female villain in the modern Bond might be cliché – hey, look at me I so modern that I have a woman as a villain.
Guns and Gadgets
I am fan of “Less is More” when it comes to gadgets, Gadgets are for movies, not really for books. If your Bond is a modern Bond I would suggest a 9mm or even the new 7.92mm X 24mm round. Had I had Fleming’s ear for the more classical Bond I would have suggested Bond carry the Beretta M1938. This was actually more powerful than the PPK or the 418, even though the 9mm Corto is not as powerful as the 9mm Parabellum.
I am not a sexist, but I have always had a problem with a female M. Generally, unless someone is elected I believe that it takes a moral relative experience to put someone’s life on the line, either Bond’s or someone else’s. Therefore I could believe that a World War Two Admiral had the moral authority to do so, unlike a political appointee. I would like to see the return of Mary Goodnight, Bill Tanner, and less of Q.
Politics and People
I am not in favor of a Realpolitik Bond. I find them boring and intellectually lazy. The Bond novels are Bond-centric. I really think it is a big risk to use real people in novels. I stopped reading Tom Clancy Patriot Games when Prince Charles made an appearance. There is a big difference in talking about a real person and making a real person a character.
Purple mountains and seascapes
Use language to create an inviting atmosphere for the reading to enter. If you break some grammar rules, so be it. Remember you are writing for someone to read your novel, not auditioning for a studio with a script.