How to Write a Spy Novel

Scribbling on the Computer

A few days ago, a friend (who will probably be among the first to comment) shot me a message, wondering how to write a spy novel:

Hey Katty!

So… you said you really like spy stories, and I just got an idea for a spy story. 😀 The problem is, I know diddly squat (er… my mom says that; I’m not sure if anyone else does! 😀 ) about spies and spy stories. 😛 Is there anything I need to know about them… or should I just wing it and see what I end up with? 😉

Love in Christ,

First off: DON’T WING IT! Whatever you do, do not wing the spy novel. I winged my first spy novel plot and ended up with so many twists and subplots with no resolutions that you couldn’t see the main plot (OK, slight exaggeration). If you get an idea…

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How to Write Steampunk

Scribbling on the Computer

I found a thread on steampunk over on one of my writing forums, and made the mistake of doing the asker’s research. I got intrigued. In an attempt to get it out of my system, I am now writing a post all about steampunk, but more specifically on how to write it.

What is steampunk?
Steampunk follows an alternate history route, asking, “What if the Victorians had more advanced technology using steampower?”  It can be based off real science, and thus be science fiction, or use anything to make a good story, and be fantasy.  Steampunk stories usually take place in the underside of society and have a gritty feel to them, matching the typical wood and brass of the apparatuses around which the stories are woven.

Subgenre Staples has an excellent list on the staples and ploys of steampunk. I highly recommend it as one of the first…

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Steampunk for Beginners


I thought I posted this “Steampunk Primer” before, but I can’t find it, so here it is again…

Steampunk is a term that there’s been quite a bit of buzz about.  But, what is exactly Steampunk? 

 Steampunkers party like it’s 1899 (and what happens when Goth’s discover the color brown, lol.)  Steampunk is set in a world where steam and natural gas, not coal and electricity is still the primary power source.  It’s a world abounding with airships, gas lamps, gears, cogs, and brass goggles and populated with mad scientists, philosophers, adventurists, and air pirates.  HG Wells and Jules Vernon are huge inspirations for Steampunk.  Examples include League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Stardust, Treasure Planet, and the Golden Compass.

Even though there’s a heavy Victorian influence and feel to Steampunk, there could still be extraordinary technology all done with Victorian materials and in Victorian styles.  There can even be…

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This is how it feels to be edited — and why it’s still essential


By Caitlin Kelly

OK, let’ s stipulate that it’s not always fun.revision1

OK, sometimes it’s really horrible.

Some people dread it. Some people fear it. Some people avoid the whole thing, by self-publishing or never submitting their ideas or work to an editor for their professional judgment.

But without an editor, your writing is stuck in neutral forever.

Even if they’re a butcher who adds errors to your copy (yes, that happens) or inserts words you’d never use (that, too) or asks asinine questions (hell, yes), you’re still learning how to write better as a result.

Few things can so quickly clarify your original intent more than having every word challenged.

Journalism, and commercial publishing, is a team sport. No matter what medium, that isn’t about to change.

Nor should it.

This delicious joke, how a women’s magazine editor would edit a BBC report was amusing every writer I know…

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Downton Abbey’s Rape Scene Exemplifies Need to Stop Using Rape in Storytelling

Falls Into Writing

Let me start by stating my main request: Stop using rape for shock value, to add dramatic intensity, or to add emotional depths to characters in storytelling. Rape is not a story. It is a fact of life for many, and one that can never be covered well enough to make it worthwhile to use casually or to gain notoriety.


Spoilers: The following post may contain spoilers for Downton Abbey season 4, episode 3

I’m a huge fan of the show Downton Abbey helmed by Julian Fellowes. I’ve encouraged others to watch, discussed seasons over cups of tea, and baked fresh scones for season premieres. But tonight’s episode, which has already aired in the U.K., featured a scene involving lady’s maid Anna (Joanne Froggatt) being raped downstairs by a visiting servant named Green (Nigel Harman), while above an opera singer sings a love song in juxtaposition.

I am not so…

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Creating a Fan Base

Publishers are looking for authors who has created a fan base. Having a large fan base before your novel is published is creating a way to show publisher that your novel will earn a spot on any bestseller.

Blog. Creating a blog is easy. (I should know.) Create a blog on WordPress (if you already haven’t), blogger, and/or Tumblr. Your blog can consist of book reviews, writing tips, chapter excerpts, and much more. If readers love your blog, they’ll love to get your book.

Social Media. Making a social media is a great way to promote your writing. It is also a great way to connect with followers on Twitter and authors everywhere on Facebook. Relate to them by telling them what’s going on and how your writing is.

Miss Literati. On the website, Miss Literati you are not only creating a fan base, you are also making reader want your book. On Miss Lit, writers/readers reads your book and can comment on it. Plus publishers love to Google your name, if it says you got Story of the Year or won a contest, they will love to publish your book.

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Whelp, bye.


~Penny Scribbles.