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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Emma Jay

I’ve always found inspiration in many places in my writing career. My favorite source for inspiration is television.

I love television. I own series on DVD, I have several on season pass setting on the Tivo, and I even have an essay in a BenBella book on my favorite show, Supernatural.

How can TV inspire me? Different ways. Today I’ll talk about characters.

Sure, there are some one-dimensional characters in TV, characters who act the same way in different situations, who never show growth. But there are some with such delicious layers, you have to keep watching. One of my favorite characters of all time is Logan from Veronica Mars. On the surface, you see him as a bad boy, but you learn he’s the neglected child of movie stars and has such a warped sense of right and wrong. He’s having to find his own way, and while sometimes he makes the right choices, a lot of times he doesn’t.

Another show with amazing characterization is Friday Night Lights. Again you have these kids who might be easily categorized on some shows, but the writers on this show dig deeper. Tyra, who comes across as the bad girl, is actually a girl who wants to get out of the small town of Dillon, where her sister is a stripper and her mother is man-hungry and aimless. Watching Tyra’s struggle to bring up her GPA and get accepted into college was a terrific arc. Then there’s Tim Riggins, a terrific football player, a ladies’ man. Only he’s also an alcoholic, being raised by his brother because his parents have washed their hands of him. But my favorite character is Matt Saracen. Matt is a sophomore when the series starts, and he’s thrust into the spotlight when the star quarterback is injured in the first episode. Matt’s not prepared for the pressure, and we find out the reason when we follow him home and see he’s the sole caretaker of his grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s, while his dad is deployed in Iraq. Throughout the course of the series, we see him adjust to the pressures, and sometimes the pressure crushes him. But the viewer roots for him to triumph despite the odds against him.

I can only hope the characters in my books are as layered as the ones I admire on television.

Visit Emma Jay on her blog.


Kytaira said...

I never really thought about this topic before. Here I am watching TV and I'm trying to think of my favorite characters on tv. I have to laugh because the show I'm watching is America's Got Talent. Up comes this little girl that is such a hoot. Her singing sucks but everyone was clapping for her because she was such a fun character. Sharon Osborne is one of those people with layers. Of course she's a real person. But we are only exposed to parts of her.

Emma Jay said...

Oh, interesting observation. I don't watch a lot of reality TV...maybe I should start!