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June 29, 2015

Writing About: Undercover Operations




LAST STOP ON MY BLOG TOUR:

Gwen Gardener - My Favorite Ghosts

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In Seismic Crimes, my sequel to Hurricane Crimes, one of my characters goes undercover. *No spoilers here!* This scene is one of my favorites because of the suspense.




If you ever find yourself writing a mystery or thriller that requires one or more of your characters to go undercover, keep these 5 things in mind:

1. Mission

First, is your character a cop, detective, civilian operative, reporter, or someone trying to solve a mystery solo and taking matters into his/her own hands? After you answer that, make it clear why your character is going undercover. What is his/her mission? This could be anything from getting information they need, finding out who is stealing lawn ornaments from neighbors, or even taking down criminals. Make sure the purpose fits your story line and moves the plot forward.

2. Disguise

When someone goes undercover, they can’t go as him/herself. Your character will need a disguise that’ll fit the situation. If your character is going undercover as a gang member, he/she will have to dress and act the part, even adoring their body with the bandanna or color of the gang. Or maybe your character is going undercover to bust a millionaire. In that case, a bit of glam is required. A person can go undercover as anyone, so let your imagination go wild.

3. Name

A disguise isn’t the only thing your character will need to keep his/her identity safe. Your character will also need a name to complete the disguise. If your character is going undercover in a gang, think of a street name. If your character needs to pretend to be rich, use a last name that exudes wealth like Kennedy.

4. Place

Where does your character go to play his/her role? The mission will dictate where this place should be. It could be a house or business, an alley or a street corner. Wherever it is, describe it to add a bit of suspense.


5. Danger!

Whenever someone goes undercover, danger is always involved. Even if bullets don’t fly, add your character’s thoughts to show his/her fear of being caught or of the situation. Portray the people your character has to trick in a darker light. Make them intense, powerful, and even menacing. Your character could also have a gun/taser/pepper spray in case things go south.


TIP: If your character has to go undercover multiple times, make the danger and stakes higher each time.


QUESTION: Think of the main character in your current WIP...now if this character was going undercover in a gang, what street name would you give him/her?


My Answer: For Beth (Hurricane Crimes), her street name would be Steel (because she’s my heroine of steel). And Donovan’s would be Blood Heart.


52 comments:

sage said...

I've never written about going undercover, but have known a few police officers who did stints undercover--they had some interested tales... Of course, there is the other kind of going undercover, but that would be in "adult-themed writings" :;)

Pat Hatt said...

I've got a new one going with undercover in it, but it is done in a weird way, so have to use such aspects in a round about way.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Visited Gwen already!
Never sent someone undercover, but there's always a first time.

Hart Johnson said...

I like reporters who need to do some undercover investigating. I find that more approachable as a character as (like a writer) they don't necessarily need to be experts in either what they are investigating or crime broadly. Plus that journalism degree must be good for something, eh? But I haven't ever had one submerge herself--disguise and all. More just briefly misrepresent herself to ask a few questions.

Chrys Fey said...

Haha! There is indeed another kind of undercover. ;P

Chrys Fey said...

A round about way would be a lot of fun.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for visiting Gwen's blog!

I think sending one of your characters under cover in space/on a space craft would be cool!

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, reporters too! That's a good one. I'll add that to my post. :) And you're right. That character doesn't have to be an expert in crime or arrest. He/she can just be motivated.

Anonymous said...

My current WIP has an undercover aspect to it. I find myself making mistakes and revising as I draft, so this is very helpful.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad it's helpful, Medeia! :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've never written an undercover story though I have one outlined and will probably get to it before the end of the year. Thanks for the advice.
Susan Says

Chrys Fey said...

It's interesting to know how many people are thinking of writing an undercover story or having a character go undercover. I'm glad I posted this! :D

The Armchair Squid said...

Great advice, Chrys!

nashvillecats2 said...

Most enjoyable to read Chrys, will visit Gwens site later.
Yvonne.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Yvonne!

Anonymous said...

The closet I've written about a character going undercover is my one vampire going to a Halloween costume party (and no, he did not dress up as a vampire. He dressed up as Frankenstein.) It didn't end well for him. He wasn't a good undercover vampire. hehe.

Carrie-Anne said...

I can't recall any of my characters having gone undercover, except for people spying/eavesdropping every so often. Boris, the primary antagonist of my first three Russian novels, has also had undercover cops investigating him for several things before he gets busted yet again.

Sarah Foster said...

Interesting tips! I'd never thought about having a character go undercover before.
I think Jordan's street name would be something like "The Voice" or maybe "Skinny Jeans." LOL.

betty said...

Great tips for those that are going to write about their characters going undercover. If I was to go undercover and be in a gang, I probably wouldn't be very convincing, LOL, and would end up dead I fear.

betty

Lisa Thomson said...

Going undercover makes for wonderful suspense :) Street name? I would probably give my character a tough nickname and maybe he or she would just go by one name. No last name. I always find it creepy when killers in books and films have a 'cute' nickname yet they are ruthless. I'm looking forward to the Hurricane Crimes sequel! I enjoyed Ghost of Death!

Mary Kirkland said...

Those are great tips.

Sherry Ellis said...

It would be kind of fun to come up with a street name for an undercover agent!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Excellent things to remember! It's important to tie up all the details.

diedre Knight said...

Hmm...I'm thinking 'Skeeter' and before now he wasn't going undercover. See what you've started! :-)

Chrys Fey said...

Bahaha! That sounds hilarious!

Chrys Fey said...

Spying characters can be a lot of fun. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Skinny Jeans! HAHAHA!!!!! I love it! :P

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Betty! I don't think I';d be very convincing either.

Chrys Fey said...

Oh like...Cupcake? lol I can picture a ruthless, petite assassin named Cupcake. :P

Thank you so much, Lisa!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Mary!

Chrys Fey said...

It would be. Unfortunately none of my characters needed street names. Maybe one day. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, indeedy. :)

Chrys Fey said...

:D My evil plan is working.

Kelly Hashway said...

You should put all these tips together in a book, Chrys. It's great info.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm planning on it one day. :D

Birgit said...

Great tips that sometimes can be overlooked. I would make a man name "Whiplash" and the woman's name "Spider". She can ensnare any man

Yolanda Renée said...

Detective Quaid is already Hawk,and for him to go undercover it would have to be for the FBI in a place he's not well known, but I think I'd stick to Hawk to give it authenticity and keep his background very close to the same, of course with a very good reason for why he's now gone rogue.

Not a plot line I've used, but there's always a chance. Thanks for the information!

Liz A. said...

My current WIP is fantasy, and they don't have those sorts of gangs in her world. (And I'm horrible at naming, so please don't make me.)

Chrys Fey said...

Spider would be a great name for a woman!

Chrys Fey said...

Hawk is a really good name. I think I used that in one of my WIPs.

Chrys Fey said...

It must be nice to not have gangs.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

I love to think of Edgar going undercover. His code name can be Bubba. ;)

I once hung out with undercover RCMP officers all day, staking out a Hell's Angels clubhouse. Nothing happened, but that was pretty interesting.

Chrys Fey said...

HAHAHA! That is hilarious! And Bubba would be the perfect code name for Edgar.

I bet that was interesting!

Ava Quinn said...

All great tips, as usual Chrys. None of my characters go undercover, but I like reading stories where that happens. :)

Dixie@dcrelief said...

You always give the best information and advice - and it's free!!! I hope summer is going well for you, Chrys, (smile).

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Ava! :)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you think so, Dixie. I think that's what a blog is all about. I am having a very nice summer. I hope you are too. :)

Romance Book Haven said...

Great tips Chrys, thanks for sharing!

Donna Smith said...

Great tips, Chrys! Thanks for sharing them. This one gave me an idea. I need to write something.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Donna! I hope that idea flourishes. :)

Chrys Fey said...

And thank you for visiting! :)