Saturday, June 11, 2011

I is for Intelligence

As long as their has been opposing governments, there have been spies. If you've been thinking about writing a spymaster or espionage ring into one of your stories, there are some basics you should know.

Top Secret--we've all heard of this classification used for data, but what does it really mean. What are the repercussions of Top Secret information falling into the wrong hands? The definition as I was taught when I went through my Military Intelligence training is simple, if Top Secret information gets out, it can and will start a war.

That's it. Plain and simple. It really puts the Wiki leaks into perspective doesn't it?

Spies are not who you expect. Wash, rinse and repeat. When writing your spies, remember these people need to blend with the general population and their job isn't always gathering intelligence, but sometimes spreading misinformation--deception, or analyzing information they've received and decoding messages. Like chess, this information is used to decide the next move, whether it be repositioning troops on a battlefield or shifting assignments of agents in the field.

Spies can be elderly, or mothers with babies or even a woman who hangs her clothes on the line to send convert messages, as one of George Washington's female agents from his infamous Culper ring did.

There are many areas of a spy network. From gathering information, dissemination, to analyzing the data to see if it supports what is known, or if the collected data could be a deception itself. All intelligence agents are not necessarily James Bond or Mati Hari. Remember, their purpose is to blend and sometimes the opposing government already knows who they are, and intentionally feed them false information, as George Washington's agents did.

So when writing your spy, ask yourself, what is their place in the network? Who are they and why could the information they hold in their heads, start a war and if information is leaked, what is the intent of the leak? Then you got the basis for a great cloak and dagger story.

Have a great weekend.

D L Jackson

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