A statue of a Red Army soldier stands guard over the mass grave of 5,000 of his fellow soldiers in Berlin
What’s the Sweet Spot for the Number of Deaths in a Spy Action Thriller? Death. It’s the great mystery, right? Lots of ideas out there about what happens, what it’s like, whether it’s permanent, whether it’s just another phase, etc. Those are all broad metaphysical questions that humans have been pondering since just about forever,...
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Character and Dialog
Description, Dialog and Development Creating a believable character is harder than it sounds. Unlike a play, a novel doesn’t have a list of the characters the reader will eventually encounter. The novelist introduces them throughout the story using a variety of methods to flesh out just who they are. At least that’s an approach I...
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Character Evolution
A Different Theory of Evolution One of the things that has surprised me most about writing is how characters can change as a story unfolds. In spite of having a rough idea of what role a character is going to play and what are the primary attributes of that character, I’ve had characters change in...
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Sources of Inspiration
Sources of Inspiration It may go without saying that, experimental forms of writing notwithstanding, a good story is at the heart of good fiction. And I assumed for many years that knowing what the story will be is a prerequisite to putting pen to paper. I saw no chicken or egg quandary; story first, writing...
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Researching a Cold War Thriller
Research for a Cold War Espionage Thriller I get asked from time to time about doing research for the Nick Temple Files. The books are set in the 1950s and 1960s, so research is necessary to lend an air of verisimilitude to a work that is otherwise fiction. I often combine personal experience as a...
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