Try this as a creative writing prompt:
Choose a well-known hero or heroine – doesn’t matter what sphere they inhabit. They could be literary, cinematic, artistic, philosophical, historical; fact or fiction, living or dead. Maybe they’re a favourite fictional character, or a hated politician. They might be the same sex as you; they might not.
List their attributes – these traits can be positive or negative.
Now think yourself into the character and build a story, from the point of view of this real or imaginary person. Mould this 2-dimensional cut out into a real person. What motivates them? What do they like? What do they fear?
To make things slightly easier, throw in a prop – a device to help the story along. It could be a deadline, a discovery, a mystery; but it should have some significance.
I’ve chosen James Bond, a universally known character with many admirable qualities and some not so admirable. He’s an all-round hero, respected by men and women. But is he really so likeable, so worthy of our esteem? Here’s my list of his qualities, followed by a story.
Suave and sophisticated; No apparent financial worries; Adventurous; Resourceful and reliable; Humorous; Cynical; Excellent driver; Lucky; Admired by men and women; Insensitive; Cruel; Looks good on the beach.
James Bond strolled up the beach, his wet torso glistening in the afternoon sun. He acknowledged the appraising glances from the young women scattered on the foreshore like so many jewels. He knew he looked good; his intense fitness regime guaranteed him an enviable six-pack and gluts to die for, displayed to their best advantage in a pair of tight fitting bathing trunks.
He grabbed his towel and rubbed his hair roughly. It fell back into place obediently; a good haircut always paid dividends. His companion sat up and shaded her eyes as she gazed up at him. Bond shifted his position so his shadow fell across her face and the unattractive creases on her brow relaxed. She patted the sand next to her. ‘Keep me company for a while?’
It was tempting, but Bond had other fish to fry. He quickly drew on shirts and a tee shirt, checked his pockets for his Walther PPK and dashed into the hinterland beyond the beach without a backward glance. Hurrying to the DB5 he’d left parked in the shade, he jumped into the driving seat and sped off, leaving half an inch of rubber on the narrow coast road.
He drove with one hand on the wheel, the other exploring the glove box, searching for the plane ticket he expected to be in there. As he drew out the envelope, a piece of paper fluttered onto the passenger seat. He took his eyes off the road for minutes at a time as he struggled to decipher the neat, handwritten note. It read: ‘Due to government cutbacks and forced economies, your position has been compromised. From now on you’ll be known as 7.’ It was signed simply ‘M’.
Bond stared at the note for a long time, swerving to avoid an oncoming truck. He couldn’t believe it. After eleven years of sterling service, he’d damn well earned the 00 of his soubriquet. How dare they? And why hadn’t M had the decency to tell him to his face? He scrutinised the ticket – economy.
Several hours later, dressed head to toe in immaculate Armani – a gift from a recent conquest, though he wasn’t in need of such expensive expressions of gratitude – he presented himself at the check-in desk. He’d been an undercover agent for a long time, but not once in his career had he been in this position. He tried to wangle a free upgrade but his innate charm wasn’t working on the check-in girl; she was not falling at his feet as most women did. She seemed impervious to flattery. ‘Do you know who I am?’ he hissed.
The check-in girl regarded him solemnly for a moment, then pressed the intercom button. ‘This is the check-in desk for flight 709 to London,’ she said into the microphone. ‘I have a gentleman here who doesn’t know who he is. Can anyone help identify him?’
She smiled sweetly at Bond. ‘An upgrade will cost £975.’
Bond surrendered his credit card, which the check-in girl studied carefully. ‘There,’ she said, pointing to his name. ‘You knew who you were all along, didn’t you, Mr, er, Bond? However, your card has been declined.’
Bond tried to contain his temper. His masters had obviously cut off his expense account at the same time as his ‘00’. He resigned himself to travelling cattle-class; he was like the Queen, he never carried cash.
Back at Heathrow he spent a few moments persuading a young blonde to give him a lift into London in her sporty little number. For an instant he wondered what would happen to his DB5, but soon forgot as he made his way to headquarters through a labyrinth of tunnels worthy of Hugo Drax.
He walked into Moneypenny’s office and, as was his custom, threw her across the desk in an awkward embrace. She struggled. Bond was perplexed; she’d never resisted before. ‘What’s the matter?’ he asked.
Moneypenny straightened her clothes and smoothed her hair before answering. ‘You can’t keep doing this, James,’ she said proudly. ‘I have feelings, too.’
‘Never mind about that,’ said Bond dismissively. ‘I need to see M.’ He barged into the inner chamber where M was engaged in a heated conference call with the Head of the CIA, the Prime Minister and President Obama. She lifted an eyebrow and motioned Bond to a chair, signalling that he should wait. Bond prowled around the office, helping himself to a glass of M’s fine bourbon before sitting down, left leg drumming impatiently.
‘What’s the matter, Bond?’ M asked when the call was ended. As Bond brought her up to speed on recent events it became obvious that his boss was completely in the dark. ‘Go and see Moneypenny,’ she advised. ‘Miss M will sort it all out.’
The penny suddenly dropped. Bond felt foolish for not realising who was behind his ignominy. He wrenched the door open and strode back into Moneypenny’s sanctum. She was ready for him. ‘It was a dirty job, James,’ she said pleasantly. ‘But someone had to do it.’