Today I’m pleased to welcome J. A. Huss to Off the Page chatting about her new book, Clutch.
J. A. Huss never took a creative writing class in her life. Some would say it shows. Others might cut her some slack. She did however, get educated and graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in Equine Science. She had grand dreams of getting a Ph.D. but while she loves science, she hated academia and settled for a M.S. in Forensic Toxicology from the University of Florida.
She went on to write science curriculum for homeschoolers and now runs a successful home business that creates and offers online science unit studies. When she’s not writing science curriculum or fiction, she works as a farm inspector, traveling the Eastern Plains of Colorado in variety of environmentally friendly vehicles that never have four-wheel drive, so when she gets stuck in the mud in said vehicles, she has to beg for assistance from anyone who will help her. She is not bitter about that at all.
She’s always packing heat and she is owned by two donkeys, five dogs, more chickens and ducks than she can count, and of course, the real filthy animals, her kids. The I Am Just Junco series was born after falling in love with the ugliest part of Colorado and the Rural Republic is based on the area of the state she currently resides in, minus the mutants, of course.
Building Convincing Characters
I love meeting new characters; in fact I can love or hate a book solely based on the characters alone. The plot can be lacking, the setting thin, but if the characters are well-developed I’m typically a happy reader.
This is because plot doesn’t get a reader emotionally involved in the story. Sure, a twisty thrilling plot can get you excited or make you anxious or scared, but the only reason you feel those emotions is because you care about the character involved in that particular situation.
When I start a new book I spend quite a bit of time deciding the little details that make characters deep and multi-dimensional. To help me along I use a method called GMC – Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. This is actually the name of a book by Donna Dixon, and it’s quite handy when trying to initially flesh out your major characters.
The main thing about characters is the motivation behind the actions. What’s motivating your character through the plot? You can see right off the bat that plot is necessary prior to figuring out their motivation. You have to know where your people are going and why. That’s a key point. Everything your character does must relate back to why they’re doing it. This keeps things consistent it helps readers distinguish between the voices and actions in the story. It also makes sure that your characters won’t become cardboard cutouts that all sound and act the same.
Goals are also very important and each individual scene should have one. Of course, your overall plot should have a main goal, but everything you make your characters do must be done for a reason. Otherwise you run the risk of playing out day to day activities that bore the reader to death.
Finally, conflict is what challenges your characters. I like writing lots of conflict because problems allow your character to make big decisions, which initiates changes in the story. You also have the opportunity to allow your character to try something different. This helps your character grow and develop.
Characters drive the story and they are what make the reader want to continue on with the story, so getting to know them intimately, putting them in difficult situations, and making sure they have reasons for their actions will go a long way towards the development of characters who can stand the test of time and live on to inspire readers for years to come.
In 2152 the avian race is on Earth looking for something stolen from them decades ago – their genetics. At the center of the search lies the Rural Republic; a small backwards farming country with high hopes of military domination and a penchant for illegal bioengineering.
19 year old Junco Coot is the daughter of the Rural Republic’s ranking commander. She’s the most foul-mouthed, wildly unpredictable and ruthless sniper the Rural Republic has ever trained. But when her father’s death sparks a trip into forbidden places, she triggers events that will change everything she knows to be true.
As an elite avian military officer, Tier’s mission is to destroy the bioengineering projects, kill Commander Coot’s daughter, and return home immediately. There’s just one problem. Junco isn’t who she claims to be.
With no one to trust, not even herself, Junco must confront the secrets of her past and accept her place in the future, or risk losing herself completely.
CONTENT WARNING – The I Am Just Junco series is NOT young adult and contains A LOT of bad language and violence