Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tension! Tension! Tension!

A conversation on how tension and taking a second look at your writing can give it more HECK YEAH!

In working on an alternative future feature-length screenplay with writing partner Tom Mercer, I recalled something I had been talking to comic book artist Rick Arthur about. Rick, a great writer in my opinion, and I have had long conversations on tension. At the time, I had been working on a different script and in trying to "up the stakes," I wrote a scene that happened to have a similar fight to a later scene. I suppose that other people, looking at the recent crop of lack-luster action adventure films, would have left it as was, but I knew the earlier fight would take away from the later one and worked hard to fix them. Thankfully, I was able come up with a solid solution that achieved all the plot points, but in a different way. This reminded me of one of the talks Rick and I had about Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and suggestions he had for the gladiator scene (you know, the one with the three beasts who were to eat up Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padmé.) Lately I've been rolling my eyes at films like Pirates of the Caribbean II and III and X-Men III for they're trade-in of story for special effects and because the films failed to utilize their genre roots. Attack was also guilty of this and Rick told me it was because they attempted an homage to gladiator movies, but didn't do the classic arena scene justice. As he and I talked about, it also showed gross negligence in not seizing the possible tension nor the possible plot points. Not to droll on about the Prequels, but I almost wish I could somehow redo that scene to show how it could have worked. Hopefully Rick doesn't mind me mixing in his ideas in the following description of how I might change such a scene...