Today, Barbara Barrett, whose latest book from The Wild Rose Press, Saved by the Salsa, will be released later this year, is our guest. Her topic, television’s new take on plot twists. Since season finales are popping up all over, this is quite timely, especially as it relates to contemporary romance writers.
Ever since the days of the first “Dallas” (are you old enough to remember?), cliffhangers have become the hallmark of the season finale. (Remember Bobby in the shower negating his death the previous season?) It’s that time of year again when either the climax the show has been building to all season is the big pay-off or some new plot twist from out of the blue throws gets viewers talking all summer until fall when the follow through occurs. As I write this, I’m prepping myself for the season finale of “Scandal,” which thrives on plot twists every episode.
Like “Scandal,” perhaps in part due to the high bar set by its thrills and chills, other network series are turning to the “finale-like” spin throughout the past season. Case in point: “Person of Interest.” Although their previews would have you believe the end was near for Detective Fusco as the team got closer to putting away “HR” and his henchmen, Fusco survived, but in the last few minutes of that episode, Carter was gunned down and died within seconds. I loved that character. In my opinion, she made the show a little more human. Since that episode, the show has moved off a whole direction.
A little earlier in the season, Red John was identified, captured and killed on “The Mentalist.” This was the eerie tale of the diabolical serial killer that had been woven throughout the first five seasons. Red John was the raison d’être for Patrick Jayne joining the California Bureau of Investigation, because RJ killed Jayne’s wife and daughter. By late 2013, the Red John story had come to an end (thankfully) and Jayne and some of his cronies moved to an entirely new venue with the FBI in Texas.
More recently, in a move I certainly didn’t see coming, Will Gardner on “The Good Wife” was gunned down by his client in the courtroom and died shortly thereafter. Another shocker that had viewers talking, texting and emailing each other the next day. I liked Will. Not as much as I liked Carter, but he was usually one of the good guys, although his on-again/off-again relationship with Alicia had grown a little strained of late. Whose relationship wouldn’t hit the skids when the junior partner set out on her own to form a new firm and took many of the best clients with her?
What I see happening on network TV is an elevation of the midseason plot twist. Viewers have known for months that “How I Met Your Mother” was in its final season. It was no surprise to see those characters go off to greener pastures, but these sudden, unexpected deaths of established characters have been different.
When done in style, which I see being the case with “Person of Interest” and “The Good Wife,” there’s something to be learned by those of us who write, even though as romance writers we’re tied to the Happily Ever After ending. These sudden game changers need to be unexpected but tied directly to the plot line, they need to make sense, and they need to progress the story.
Have I been doing that with my plots? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t consider the sudden twist in the future. Readers like to be surprised and then be able to say, “Oh, I saw that coming a mile away.” As for the loss of favorite characters, probably not. I think I’ll keep watching these series to see how they fare before I get too carried away.
How about you? Has one of your favorite TV characters suddenly disappeared? Do you think this is a good move for network TV?
Barbara Barrett spent her professional career as a human resources analyst for Iowa state government, and that training has stayed with her in her writing of contemporary romance fiction. Now retired, Barbara spends her winters basking in the Florida sunshine and returns to her home state of Iowa in the summer to “stay cool.” She has published two romance novels with The Wild Rose Press, And He Cooks Too and Driven to Matrimony. A third, Saved by the Salsa, the first in the Sullivan’s Creek series, is coming later in 2014.
Website and blog: http://www.barbarabarrettbooks.com