Each season, watching Jack Bauer is my crackalicious duty. The over-the-top plots, the crazy characters, the lack of logic--somehow I'm still riveted. Jack Bauer fascinates and amuses me as a character, with his alpha toughness that borders on lunacy (but in a good, protect-the-world way) and his inability to communicate other than with weapons. And of course, there's always the thigh-shooting and the JackSack (TM) that holds all weapons and yet look so innocently empty when he's carrying it. We Jack fans cackle every time a thigh is shot, with much beverage consumed for each mention of "perimeter."
It's great how we get to love certain characters, in books and shows, and stay with them through their journey. We enjoy their ticks and mannerisms; we love them in spite of their faults. How many of us have whole series of books with characters that have become part of our reading family (Eve and Roarke come to mind)? When they do bone-headed things, we yell at them; when they're in danger or in pain, we're totally concerned about their safety and emotional well-being, looking eagerly for the next chapter or book to let us know all is well...for a little while ;-).
That's why I'm enjoying writing my Virtual series. It's an exercise in learning how to write with many eyes. I've discovered that it's like being on an escalator that goes up pass different floors, one that I can choose to stop on the way to the top. Each floor has different "stores," ones that I could explore, if I chose to get off, and the stores give me items that tell yet another layer of my hero's and heroine's stories.
As a writer, knowing that there are readers who are taking an interest in one's characters to commit to a series is humbling, exciting, scary, exhilarating, and so much more. It can also be overwhelming because the challenges can turn into quicksand and cut off one's air.
Like Jack Bauer's plot lines, how much more over-the-top can it get before the fans walk away? For now, I'm still willing to let Jack Bauer save the day. Why? Because the character is iconic: he moves around in a time with the ease of Bionic Man when all of us are mired in a frozen state. He is unbelievable and unbelievably amazing, but then all superheros are supposed to be both.
It's more difficult in a romance with action because the writer has to take care of the romance, have the hero heroic without crossing that gray line of being unredeemable. That Jack Bauer is aware of how far gone he is makes him a challenging romantic hero, if one is inclined to pick up the challenge to give him a romance plot line ;-). I heard that this season, he might meet a heroine dark and damaged enough to actually take him on. Can't wait!