A Matter of Priorities by Jon Keys

Characters, they are the core of telling an interesting story. I think everyone handles them differently. Some carefully map out personalities in great detail that include interviews and profiles while others start out with a loose sketch of the character and their temperaments. The same would be true of how much of the information is based on real people. For me, I make my characters with bits and pieces of folks I’ve know through my life, but I’ve never taken someone I know and made them wholly into a person to populate my fiction.

I tend to start with the physical descriptions. To start a novel I make a list of interesting stories. I’m a big fan of lists. I use the outline feature in Word all the time. It works great for me and lets me collapse and expand sections. But I come up with the story I want to tell first and from the rough idea work out the ensemble I want for each tale. For me a lot of the decision depends on the length of the story. A short tale might only need one main part, I did that in ‘Showstring’ where the entire story was from Lain’s POV. But usually the tale is longer and needs more characters to tell the story I want told.

Once I have an elevator pitch hammered out, I begin fleshing out the parts. I usually define the physical characteristics. What do they look like? Some are as simple as height, weight and hair color. But for others, especially the ones involved in the romantic scenes, I need more details. Over the years I’ve found that some times more is not better, but usually I like to know the fine points.

When I have the physical details roughed in, I start working on their names. The names are never easy for me. I use a variety of websites to pick names. The list at the social security site is a favorite source for first names. I’ll list out the ones that sound right for the character in my head. The names in ‘A Matter of Priorities’ are some of my favorites and they liked them too. That’s right—the character’s liked their names. Sometimes the names just don’t fit. Usually I’ll know if I have difficulty remembering it, then I go back to my list. But eventually the pieces come together.

At this point the individual personalities won’t have the depth I want. I could work to flesh them out more before I begin, but that doesn’t work well for me. I have more success if I discover the personas as I write. I always have an outline of the narrative and work from there to create the story. As the fiction progresses, the character’s reveal themselves. For example, Cooper’s personality took several rounds before it reached the level I wanted.

I’ll be the first to admit my method makes the second draft more difficult. Sometimes entire pages are rewritten then. But for me, this combination of physical description, name and personality help create characters the reader enjoys.



After being disowned by his family, Cooper judged his self-worth by his latest hook-up. But circumstances change as he learns about true love.

Cooper Dias is a better-than-average college student with a major in architecture and a love of dogs. But while he plays the role of campus playboy, he believes no one would care enough to worry about him—except his best friend Liam. His expectations are simple—searching for the latest hook-up. His newest obsession is his professor, Lucas Nyman, who has asked Cooper to work as part of the team for an out-of-class project, which he eagerly accepts.

At a celebratory evening at Professor Nyman’s home, Cooper is invited to fulfill his latest fantasy—a ménage à trois with the professor and his husband. But the fun turns into something much weightier when pillow talk turns into friendly advice from the pair whose bed Cooper has shared. After a close call that leaves Cooper shaken and a confession from Liam, Cooper begins to realize that life is not as he thought.

Reader Advisory: This book contains a ménage-à-trois scene.


About the Author

Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in, he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, Native American, westerns and comic books.

A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy. With interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.



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A Matter of Priorities by Jon Keys
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