Monday, July 3, 2017

Shuffling The Deck

Wentworth. This has become one of my favorite dramas over the past few years, and if you haven't been watching it, you might want to stop reading now and skip over to Netflix and rectify that situation.

A fan's take on season 1. 

However, if you don't mind spoilers (which I'll try to keep minimal and avoid specifics), or are caught up, there's something I've really taken away from the latest season of this Australian prison drama (which makes Litchfield look like a country club housing wannabe tough girls) about plot development. Wentworth did the unthinkable by killing off one of its leading characters at the end of season 4. It did not rest on its laurels with its approach to season 5. Instead, the groundwork was laid early in season 4 for new faces and changing variables that would shake the remaining inmates (and correctional staff) to their core. We're 2/3 of the way through season 5, and it's a brilliant example of how shifting the pieces can impact character growth, character arcs, and both primary and secondary plotlines.

There's a temptation in many genres to use a common tactic; splitting up a core group. The X-Files get shut down and Mulder and Scully are reassigned. In CSI the night shift is split up. And all too often, the writers rush through that phase and bring the band back together. Unfortunately, doing so often stagnates growth.

Wentworth season 5 could have been a season of mourning as inmates grieved their loss; instead, the drama has been elevated to a whole new level, making this one of the strongest seasons for an incredibly strong show.

Personally, I don't mind spoilers. Sometimes, I love them. Part of the reason is that I'm interested in exploring the mechanics to see how the writers get from point A to the end of the Greek alphabet. I love it most of all when I can't predict the moves it will take, but that I'm completely satisfied that the event was earned through believable character actions and events.

I know a little spoiler about the episodes of Wentworth we haven't seen, and all I can say is that I can't wait to connect the dots from where we are now to that outcome. For me, the conclusion isn't always the greatest treat in the story; it's seeing the writers dig deep to bring out the best storylines and keep the audience on the edge of their seat while everything unfolds.

If you're looking for inspiration, considering how to add layers to your plot that increase the tension, study a show like Wentworth. This is a master class in weaving arcs together for the good of the story.

(The best show trailers don't have embed capability, but are available on Youtube.)

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