Writing the CIA Operative -- The World of Espionage
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You have a choice to make when you write a novel involving spies and the world of Intelligence. Do you reflect the James Bond / Bad Boy stereotypes from popular fiction or do you craft realistic characters placed in authentic locations? Both work and they can use similar traits. We'll look at the first, but mostly we'll dig into the second. The subject of Intelligence is way too broad to cover in twelve brief sessions, but we'll try to build some understanding at a solid, basic level. Using the IC's own public documents, I'll present the IC and its 17 elements, what each one does and how the process works, and we'll look at the statutory limits placed on intelligence. Then, part deux, we'll talk about "agents", the important difference between clandestine and covert, where they train, the data they use and what the analysts do, about the security classification structure and how clearances work, about a couple of famous insider traitors or notable "agents" – and some incredible male and female role models. I'll invite you to tell us about your characters and situation no matter what side of the street they walk. Throughout the lessons, I'll give you online and written references, spy terminology and suggestions about who to reach out to when you have a specific plot or character story problem. In discussions, we'll trade details about our stories and start to develop a sixth sense of what's real and what isn't, and learn to "Trust, but verify." Each Chapter will suggest opportunities for the writer to break the cliché mold. There's a lot of material. I've started your research; download it all. Oh, and there will be a couple make-you-think quizzes and, at the end, a "test" based on a real situation.
I never worked as a spy. I was an analyst and a staff officer. I had constant contact with many Intelligence Community elements, including spies and double agents, participated in highly classified projects and received training and education in Intelligence at the National level. Now I'm retired and trying to be a writer. I won't bend security rules trying to look like an insider; everything I present is available on the internet, often in IC public documents. I worked within Air Force Intelligence, one of the IC Elements, for forty-two years. My final incarnation was the Deputy Director of Intelligence and Technical Director for HQ Air Force Space Command, serving as a senior civilian. I've published mystery and science fiction short stories, and I'm working on novels in mystery, SF and romantic-suspense.
Tread lightly...But know that while we are all working together here, the conversation can turn quickly to death, destruction and mayhem. And we are fine with that. We'll even abet you as you work to do the same, to become the best spinner of romantic mysteries and thrillers that you can be. So come on in, the water's warm...as blood.