Brinda Berry · character development · Uncategorized

A Writer’s Obsession with Sons of Anarchy

soa

Psst….lean in. I have a secret obsession–Sons of Anarchy (SOA).

For a writer, there’s a lot to be learned from this highly addictive series on FX.  A while back, I started watching the series on Netflix. The show is currently running in its sixth season, and I’m almost caught up. This series has a great premise with talented actors, dark humor, a tangled web of subplots, and constant surprises.

This is the story of Jax Teller (played by Charlie Hunnam) and a motorcycle club called SAMCRO in small town Charming, CA. Jax’s mother is played by Katey Sagal (famous for her role as Peggy Bundy in Married with Children). Jax’s stepfather that I love to hate is played by Ron Perlman. The entire cast does an amazing job with this story.

SOA was created by Kurt Sutter who writes, produces, and acts on the show. Let’s discuss how an author can learn from this series. How do the screenwriters keep America tuned in?

  • Main character Jax is easy on the eye, walks with a swagger,  and has undeniable sex appeal. But really, there are lots of good-looking guys on television. It’s more than his physical appearance. There’s a depth of emotion and vulnerability that keeps you rooting for him.  Oh, and he loves his kids.  Every time he kisses the top of his son’s head, I swoon.
  • The motorcycle club is an unfamiliar culture to most of us. It’s exciting to see the inside workings of an organization so different from any I know. There’s a lot of illegal and immoral activity going on, but we also see admirable traits like loyalty, family, friendship, and honor.
  • We get to root for characters who are a little sullied.  And that’s a good thing because perfectly nice characters are boring.  Honestly, it’s amazing how the writers give us such a three-dimensional view of  each character.
  • The character arcs are epic. Events change people over time. You see each character impacted in tiny increments until they do something four seasons down the line that you should have seen coming.
  • Heart-slamming action and tender emotion keep you on the edge of your seat. The screenwriters want you to be invested in the well-being of the characters.  And then BAM! Somebody dies. The abide by the writer’s rule to kill your darlings. George RR Martin has nothing on them.

SOA is supposed to run for seven seasons. As a writer, I’m trying to predict the fate of the characters and their motorcycle club. The good thing is that I know they’ll surprise me.

*Warning: Sons of Anarchy has adult themes, violence, and nudity.

BIO: Brinda lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She’s terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality.
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