How do you write about spies/ secret agents
There isn’t exactly a comprehensive guide to writing about spies/secret agents, as a lot of it depends on the context they’re working in. Spies for government agencies, for business competition, or in apocalyptic or magical/fantasy settings - spies will be written differently depending on each of these contexts.
Things you consider when writing about spies:
- How much is at stake - their lives, the lives of others, destruction of a business, a town, a planet ect.
- What information they’re looking to obtain - details of the enemy’s plan, scientific/technological advances, crucial information that may assist their own investigations/plans
- What tools they use to obtain it - audio/video bugs and hidden cameras, undercover agents, computer hacking tools, invisibility, magical gems that scan for info, or just sheer manipulation
- Who they answer to - are they spying of their own accord, or at the direction of someone else? If they fail in obtaining their info, what will happen to them? And if they succeed, what rewards will they receive, if any?
- If their loyalties will shift - some characters spy for the enemy, without realizing they’re spying for the enemy, and they switch to the other side once they discover this. Is this true/false of your spy character?
These are all things that could vary depending on your story’s setup and the universe you’ve created, so go through and think about how each of these topics applies to your story.
Some additional general tips I can give you:
1. Don’t make it too easy
Spies shouldn’t succeed on every assignment or task they take on. They should fail from time to time and have to deal with the repercussions, even if it means their identity is revealed. Sometimes revealing the identity of your spy halfway through the story shakes things up in ways you couldn’t have predicted and ultimately makes for a more interesting story.
2. Consider why your character became a spy
They may have believed in the mission they were working for, or perhaps were raised by their parents to take on the spy game, or maybe were threatened by a big boss who decided they needed your character. What motivated your character to do this, and furthermore…
3. Consider what would make your character turn on their spy duties
What action or event would make your character drop the charade? Would they reveal their identity to save a life? To prevent someone from experiencing emotional hurt? Or are they the type who would carry their secrets to the grave for the greater good of mankind?
4. Don’t neglect the story’s mystery
The best spy stories are also mysteries - spies are looking for specific information that will help them understand some greater problem. Don’t reveal too much all at once. Keep readers guessing at the significance of new discoveries, but don’t have them twisting in their seat until the last chapter. Think of each new detail as a Cheerio, and feed your readers one at a time, instead of the full bowl.
Hope that helps!