Thursday, March 29, 2012

Creating Realistic Characters in Fiction

Writing fiction is never an easy task because it requires the author to crawl inside the minds of a very diverse group of characters. No writer would put a real person inside a novel, for what would be the point in doing this. We do, however, draw clues from the people we know that helps us understand humanity a little better. While the sadness a friend encounters after losing a loved one will not appear in a book, the experience makes us more aware of what personal loss involves. Our books become richer, more realistic, and in various ways, more helpful to readers who might be going through a personal crisis.

The most difficult characters to create are the ones who commit senseless crimes. A writer friend of mine attempted to probe inside the mind of an inmate who had killed several people in a decade long crime spree. He came away without any additional understanding of the situation, and a feeling that the prisoner did not really understand it himself. One thing that makes it so hard to probe the mind of these people is the fact that they are so skilled at concealing who they really are. People are dangerous, complex, and often loveable. This is the thing that makes fiction so appealing to all of us. Thank you for your visit and happy reading.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hunger Games

“Why don’t you write a romance?” a friend of mine asked. So I explained to her that all of the main characters in my books have a love interest, even the villains. I have discovered that it brings a special dimension to any character to insert a soft center somewhere inside all of that macho posturing.

“That’s not what I’m talking about,” she protested. “You need to write a real romance. That is what everyone is reading and I think you would be good at it.”

“What are you reading?” I asked, somewhat fearful of her answer. She gave me that kind of grin women give men when they are especially clueless. I found myself looking at the cover of Suzanne Collins’ novel, The Hunger Games. I had only read a few pages before I was hooked. Writers tend to forget from time to time that ‘plot’ is a verb, and is best defined with power words like confrontation, turmoil, or trouble. After reading halfway through The Hunger Games, I am still not convinced that romance is the right genre for me, but it has made me take a new look at the personal relationships in the type of novels I write.

“I’m not sure I can write a straight romance novel,” I told her. “Please . . .” she said. “Please, please, please!”

If she had only said please twice, I might have rejected her suggestion. But three in a row? I feel myself weakening . . .

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Author interview by Louise James on her blog March 20-22

As an avid reader, I never know as much as I want to know about the authors of the books I enjoy. I was pleased to receive an invitation from Louise James who graciously takes the time to promote other authors. Later this week (March 20-22) I will be the author on center stage answering some questions from Louise about my writing. Be sure to drop by and visit her blogs and websites. You will find some interesting and informative information there. See you then.

Click on the title of this article to visit her site.

Joe Prentis

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Censorship of our First Admendment Rights

Authors were notified this weekend that the financial institutions that handle payment for books on Smashwords will longer allow Smashwords to process payments for books that contain erotica, rape, incest, or bestiality. I do not write or read erotica, but I am reminded of the famous quote regarding the first amendment rights of freedom of speech. Voltaire said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

I do not like censorship because it is impossible to come up with anything that makes sense. In one city a few years ago, the city fathers were well on their way toward writing an obscenity ordnance, when one member wanted to go one step further and outlaw animals going naked. Her amendment would have required owners to make their pets or farm animals wear diapers.

My books contain every crime or sin imaginable, although I try to present it in a sensible way in which the good guys win and the criminals get the punishment they deserve. While I do not like erotica, I see this act as a first step in banning other anti-social acts from literature. What would happen to our stories if they banned murder, bank robbery, simple assault, or criticism of corrupt officials? Censorship in any form is a slippery slope that I don’t think we can deal with until we take a giant step up the evolutionary scale from where we are. If the management of these financial institutions gets away with this, can censorship of Amazon or the other publishers be far behind? Below, you will find the addresses of the financial institutions and credit card companies that are leading this crusade to reign in our rights of freedom of expression. If you agree with me, send them an email stating your position.


American Express



EBay (Paypal)