Monday, October 27, 2014

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Scene Tension

For all you writer type folks out there… need a lesson in Scene Tension? Go watch “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”

This was an exercise in what not to do. I assume it was the writers and the director that totally took the obvious tension and forgot to add it to numerous scenes in the movie. The scene reveals happened so softly I had to ask myself if the climax was over. Could something else pop out and surprise me? Nope. Scene after scene I expected horrible things to happen, and when they did, they weren’t so horrible, not even mildly exciting.  Despite the destruction and chaos boredom reigned. Sure my kids said they liked the movie, but they were not even that excited about.

When you’re critiquers say to add tension to you scenes, you’ll get a better idea of what they mean by watching this movie. They had all the gags, misadventures, failures and surprises scripted, set and delivered…but they all fell flat. Not like Wile E. Coyote flat. Steve Carell, dressed in a Seinfeldian puffy shirt, couldn’t even save the scenes.

The opening set up the movie and I got excited looking at the ruin on all the charaters’ faces, including the baby with the green face. I should have left after that with high expectations.
If you think your scenes have all the details and set up, but don’t delivery… look again. It might be a lack of tension that bores your readers.


“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Scene Tension” is only worth the price of admission to see what dull looks like. And once you see it, you might see some of that boredom hindering your pages.  Edit accordingly.