Sunday, March 30, 2008

Anatomy of a Spy Novel

The history of the masters of “cloak and dagger” is mysterious, and hence, famous. The tribe (who according to Chanakya is one of the major weapons for safety of a country), includes famous fictional names from Scarlet Pimpernel, Beauvallet to James Bond to Jack Ryan. On desi front we have aiyyars like Tejsingh, Badrinath and so on (whose one of the claims to fame is that they always find some female around whose clothes they can don), but they don't have books dedicated to their craft.

For all the rookie writers out there, who want to get a piece of spy-fi pie, we bring you the anatomy of a spy novel. Fill in the stuffing according to taste, and you've got yourself a turkey, sorry, a successful spy thriller:

The novel starts with the Good Guys (GG) catching the Bad Boys (BB) doing something they are not supposed to do, or something the BB are doing better than GG. Now GG start running around, trying to get the intel on the secret BB project.

There is of course a spy within BB (Good Spy = GS) who will get the information back to GG, and he is sufficiently high-placed (or well-placed) that he has access to the intel. But the BB will get a lucky break, and the spy will either get caught, or they will come to understand that there is a spy, and will start hunting for him.

It turns out that the BB also have a well-placed spy amongst GG (Bad Spy = BS), who told them about GS, or the intel he provided. Now, GS is acting as a spy because of the injustice he or someone close to him was forced to suffer, and he wants to help GG to achieve world peace. But BS is acting as a spy because he has a baser personal motive, and he is fooling himself that he is doing it because he wants world peace. So, while GS is respected on both sides, even the BB handlers don't like BS, but they have to tolerate him, because they are bound by duty and he is a valuable asset.

Thus, while both sides are busy gathering the intel and hunting for the spy amongst them (and in case of GG, ensure the safety of GS), a third party (TP) will step in. Depending on the relationship between the TP and the Central Character (CC), TP will either meddle into the GG investigation, or provide some important intel to GG, which will aid in their investigation.

With this information (or despite it), CC will concoct a plan. The GG will make an all-out try, and get the BS, while making it easy to confuse BB, and get GS out. And GG will live happily ever after.

Points to Note:

  1. If BB are from a country with whom GG hasn't had an armed conflict, then you can treat BB with some respect. They will be able to get good breaks in their investigation, even coming as far as actually catching GS. And GS will be able to get out in spite of BB' best efforts, and not because of BB' stupidity.

  2. Make sure to put in some good guys within BB, who are doing their duty well and honestly. They will do their utmost, but will be thwarted by the crooked among BB, and of course, by the CC.

  3. If TP is another country or people, they will be inferior to GG and BB in technology, but that will not be their only motivation in helping GG. This will allow you to make condescending remarks about their current political situation, civilization and so on.

  4. If you are sure that the country where BB are residing will not be a big market for your novel, then you can pass judgements on everything related to them.

  5. Make sure that you preach about current world situation, war, enmity and hatred among people. This sounds better if coming from CC, or the Head of GG. For extra points, the head of BB should be the audience.

So, get your pens, typewriters and word processors ready, and write that spy-fi you always wanted. Who knows, your “Spiare EspionTM” could be the next James Bond...

Coming up next: Anatomy of a crime serial episode

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken


silverine said...

Brilliant!! And spot on!! This is 'the' storyboard for all aspiring writers. Not useful for Bollowood movie makers though as they would rather plagiarize the finished product anyways!!

Amey said...

@Silverine: Let's just say I have made creating a finished product that much easy ;)

Does Bollywood have any "good" spy movies? And no, I am not talking about The Hero.