A movie’s ending can often be more important than any other aspect. Screenplays can live and die by their endings. A great movie can be dragged down by a poor ending, and a well thought out end can elevate a so-so movie. Your strong hooks and surprising twists will all be forgotten about if you don’t stick your script’s ending, so here are some tips that will help you end your script on a high note!
- Step 1 to Write a Perfect Ending to Your Script: Plan Things Out
By the time you start writing, you should already know how your script is going to end. Knowing where you’re going in your script will allow you to craft believable twists and satisfying moments of payoff because you have had the time to lay the seeds of those things early on and throughout the story.
- Step 2 to Write a Perfect Ending to Your Script: The Internal and The External
When thinking about your ending, be sure to pay attention to what’s going on with your main character, both internally as well as externally. You want a balance of both to achieve a satisfying ending. For example, in “Frozen,” the internal and the external are directly connected when Elsa must stop the intense winter she’s created. She does this by recognizing the strength of her loving bond with her sister. This is both an internal moment for the character and an external moment as winter recedes.
In “Jurassic World,” Owen and Claire must find a way to stop/get away from all the dinosaurs running around, but by the end, they discover that they make a good team and are stronger together. You want the emotional payoff to be present in your ending, and you don’t want to forget about it in favor of all the external things going on.
- Step 3 to Write a Perfect Ending to Your Script: Try Writing Out of Order
I bounce between writing a script completely sequentially and, in other cases bouncing all around. When concerned about crafting a strong ending that resonates with the beginning, I suggest trying to write the opening ten pages and the last ten pages of the script first and branch out from there. Writing the beginning and the ending first can help solidify where you’re going and let you marinate on how well the ending works as you write other parts of the script.
- Step 4 to Write a Perfect Ending to Your Script: Look at the Genre
When trying to figure out your ending, it can be helpful to look at other films within the same genre and consider their endings. What’s commonplace for the genre? What sort of endings subvert the traditional in the genre?
- Step 5 to Write a Perfect Ending to Your Script: What Does the Audience Want?
Audiences today are very savvy and will be trying to predict your ending from early on in your story. They’ve learned to expect the unexpected, so tread lightly when trying to confuse or surprise them. Don’t craft an ending that’s just meant to be shocking for the audience because chances are A) It won’t be all that shocking, or B) It won’t feel satisfying. While it can be good to consider your ending from the audience’s perspective, it’s best to decide your ending based on what resonates with you. What end makes sense in terms of the world and characters you’ve created? The audience will recognize when you write something that you fully believe in, and then wrap up in a way true to the story.
Endings can be tough, but hopefully, these tips can help when you’re trying to figure yours out! Happy writing!