Writing Tip Wednesday – POV/Characters

Writing Tip Wednesday – POV/Characters

JA Huss

Welcome to video four of The Perfect Story. This is the first craft video outside of story structure. I think learning how to create good characters is one of the best skills you can have as a writer. Sure, the plot is what carries the reader through the story but you can fuck up a lot of things in a book and still have a hit if you write amazing characters. So I hope you some insight in this video that helps you come up with your own method of characterization.

I don’t have any books to recommend that I found helpful in creating great characters. I only use the method described in the video. But for sure, if this is not your way, go look around and try some books on characterization. In my opinion they are filled with a lot of bullshit words that have no significant meaning for me and make the whole thing more confusing than it needs to be. I like to simplify things and that’s what I give you here.

If you’re just coming in on this series and haven’t yet seen the previous videos they are linked below.

Middles and Scenes
Hooks and Endings
Sex Scenes
Literary Devices

As always, if you don’t want to remember to check back every two weeks to watch the new video, you can always follow my blog using the form below and I’ll send the post right to your email. And if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll answer your question as soon as I see it.

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About JA Huss

JA Huss never wanted to be a writer and she still dreams of that elusive career as an astronaut. She originally went to school to become an equine veterinarian but soon figured out they keep horrible hours and decided to go to grad school instead. That Ph.D wasn’t all it was cracked up to be (and she really sucked at the whole scientist thing), so she dropped out and got a M.S. in forensic toxicology just to get the whole thing over with as soon as possible.

After graduation she got a job with the state of Colorado as their one and only hog farm inspector and spent her days wandering the Eastern Plains shooting the shit with farmers. After a few years of that, she got bored. And since she was a homeschool mom and actually does love science, she decided to write science textbooks and make online classes for other homeschool moms. She wrote more than two hundred of those workbooks and was the number one publisher at the online homeschool store many times, but eventually she covered every science topic she could think of and ran out of shit to say.

So in 2012 she decided to write fiction instead. That year she released her first three books and started a career that would make her a New York Times bestseller and land her on the USA Today Bestseller’s List eighteen times in the next three years. Her books have sold millions of copies all over the world, the audio version of her semi-autobiographical book, Eighteen, was nominated for an Audie award in 2016, and her audiobook Mr. Perfect was nominated for a Voice Arts Award in 2017. Johnathan McClain is her first (and only) writing partner and even though they are worlds apart in just about every way imaginable, it works.

She lives on a ranch in Central Colorado with her family.

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  1. This was so good. It helped me keep characterization and how it fits in with theme and story arc. I appreciate all the effort you put through in these videos for us. I have a question, when you write in your first person pov, do you continue that character’s story all the way through the end or do you stop when it’s time for another character to pop in and help the plot along the way,( i.e. supporting character, romantic interest, villain, etc.) and then pick the main character up again?

    1. If you mean multiple point of view – I use it when I have to. I typically do dual POV which works just fine in Romance because it’s really just a story about two people. But if you are writing outside of romance and have a bazillion characters, it’s a lot harder. You just have to plan your story cleverly. My Junco series is a very good example of how I used first person in that kind of situation. There’s almost no way it can’t turn into some kind of mystery because if you are using only one POV, and that POV is first, then you only have access to that person’s thoughts and it’s all happening in the present. But this is the reason why I needed four POV’s in Taking Turns. I needed access to those thoughts and the story would not be the same if I didn’t have them in there. I’d read that book if you’re looking for how to use multiple (more than two) POV in first person. Or the last Junco book, Return, which has seven first person POV’s.

  2. I went through the Perfect Year (as a reward for getting word counts done) as they came out, had a sad moment when it wrapped up (no more Julie!). Did a happy dance when you started the Perfect Story, and I’m savoring each morsel of it. I *rarely* ever watch videos or listen to podcasts about craft–I try, but my mind starts wondering off to my to-do lists and a million other things and I end up skimming while multitasking. Your videos? I’m 100% present. Love your style of breaking things down, your give-no-shits approach, and your dedication to creating a sustainable career. [Hell yes, high-five, fist bump.] I laugh, I smile, say “oooh!”, and get inspired with new ideas with each new one. Something about the way you cut to the chase and explain things clicks like instalove with my brain’s way of making connections, so even if I’ve dug deep with a topic before, I still always glean something new from your videos. You might feel like you’re “just rambling”, but please do continue to be the voice in my head, lol. 🙂 Many thanks for doing all these videos!

  3. You by Caroline Kepnes is an outstanding book written in 2nd person (thriller). One of my favorites, and the audiobook is kickass.

    Julie, you mentioned your heroes are almost all anti-heroes. Can you expand on that a little? Like, when you’re creating an anti-hero – what does that mean to you? And are there certain things you want to do or not do when creating a character like that? Thanks.

    1. Well, an anti-hero is the “hero” of a book, minus the “hero” qualities. He’s out for himself, typically on the edge of society, and only “does the right thing” because it’s in his best interest. It’s kinda hard to write antiheroes correctly in romance. You really have to be able to blend the good and evil qualities. Typically authors do this by making him only “good” when he’s with the heroine, and everyone else can fuck off.

  4. I love this series and the one you did on marketing. It is so amazing to have an author willing to give back and not expect hundred of dollars in return!

    I really like what you said about readers versus fans. It’s so easy to get obsessed with all the marketing/rising out of obscurity bullshit and forget about what is most important, which is writing a good book! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  5. Hello Julie,
    I’ve just binged on 4, 5 & 6 on my laptop, although had listened to them on my bus commute. I can’t tell you how valuable I am finding them. Today its taken me over 5 hours to watch and note these three, as I had to keep stopping to make plot points, characterisations (Australia s here :-)), and ideas for conflict, suspense and tension in my adventure/romance novel-to-be. Awesome. I am just about to go online and buy the Altered Carbon series so I can read them with your notes in mind.
    Loving everything JAH. To be honest, I had subscribed to so many blogs and have been getting so confused and a little, maybe a lot, despondent…now I am seriously culling, as you just make so much sense, and have no hidden agenda.
    Cheers from Oz.

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