One of the most common mistakes made by authors and screenwriters alike is ending their stories too early.
While it might sound like a good idea to tie up all your loose ends at the end of your book or story, it’s often a disaster that leaves your audience wondering why you didn’t give them more.
The best books and movies leave you wondering what happens next. When you feel like you have unanswered questions about the characters and their world, you want to know more.
This makes for better writing because it keeps the audience engaged longer and ultimately leads to better screenplays and films.
The ending is where all the plot lines are resolved and the protagonist faces his final battle with the antagonist.
In this article, we will look at how endings are structured in stories and screenplays, and some examples of effective endings.
How To End A Story Or Screenplay
What Is An ending In a story or screenplay?
In a story or screenplay, the ending is the conclusion to the story. The ending may be happy, sad, or bittersweet.
The ending can be seen as the falling action of a story, following the climax. The resolution is where all questions are answered and all loose ends tied up.
The ending should answer all major questions raised in your story, such as “who is responsible?” and “how did they do it?”
It’s important that your audience doesn’t feel like any questions are left unanswered or that there are any loose ends still dangling at the conclusion of your film.
The ending usually sees the main protagonist complete their character arc and come to an understanding about something important about themselves or the world around them.
The type of ending you choose for your script depends on what you want to say with your story and about your characters.
This article will look at how endings structure the stories and screenplays and some examples of practical endings.
How To End Your Story – The Definitive Guide
So how do you end your story? Here are a few tips:
- Leave Some Unanswered Questions
Authors’ biggest mistake is tying up all the loose ends in their book or story.
Leaving some questions unanswered will keep your viewers interested in what happens next.
- Build Up to A Cliffhanger
A cliffhanger is where a character’s life or death is in immediate danger.
These are great ways to keep your audience engaged and return for more.
However, make sure that your cliffhanger isn’t too obvious or expected, so it feels fresh and original.
- Missing pieces
When we start reading or watching something, we immediately try to put all of the pieces together in our heads.
When pieces are missing, you leave the audience wanting more. They may leave the theater asking questions and discussing the plot between themselves.
It is also a key strategy if you’re looking to follow up with a sequel.
How To End Your Screenplay
Your story has to be well-rounded and balanced, but it also has to end. Endings are essential in any work of art.
It Is just as true for screenplays. It’s where the audience takes what they’ve been watching and translates it into a personal experience.
Your screenplay’s ending will determine whether or not your script gets made into a movie.
Your ending must be surprising, yet inevitable, simple, complex and emotional, yet logical.
Think of your screenplay as a story about a protagonist who faces conflict and rises above it.
You have to create an antagonist – something that gets in your character’s way.
The climax is when the protagonist overcomes the antagonist by using his learned information.
The climax is toward the end of Act 3 (the third act of your screenplay). The confrontation scene (or scenes) occurs well.
The resolution is the part that comes after the climax. It happens when all conflict resolves and the story ends.
In most cases, this is where your protagonist finds out how they are going to overcome their antagonist through a confrontation scene between themselves and their primary opponent(s).
Ending Your Movie
When we’re watching a movie, the credits are often some of the show’s most anticipated moments. It’s the end of a great adventure, and we can finally relax with our favorite characters and actors.
How do you want your audience to feel when they leave your movie? You’ve spent years creating your masterpiece, and now it’s time to make it shine.
There is nothing as unique as a good ending to make people enjoy your movie even more.
But how do you know when your project is finished? I’ll go over 15 steps for making a perfect ending for your movie or video project.
Use music that matches the mood of your story, add an outro, add a clip showing what happened after the events of your account, use an end card, and show scenes from previous parts of your film.
Display text with information about products and makes a montage out of all the best scenes in your film.
Show quotes from your movie reviews and add subtitles with information about who created the movie. Show scenes that weren’t included in the final cut but could have been in earlier versions.
The Best Movie Ending Examples
The best movie endings are easy to remember, but that doesn’t mean they’re predictable.
Great endings don’t just wrap up all the loose ends, and they do so in a way that surprises and enthralls.
Here are a few examples of the most memorable movie endings in cinematic history: Psycho (1960).
Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Psycho is remembered for its famous shower scene in which Norman Bates stabs Marion Crane to death, but the most memorable part of the film may be its ending.
In the final moments of Psycho, Marion’s sister Lila enters her sister’s bedroom and discovers a horrifying sight: “Mother” is Norman Bates dressed as his dead mother.
It’s a shocking twist ending referenced countless times over the years. Saving Private Ryan (1998) Saving Private Ryan is an excellent example of a movie that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
The World War II drama essentially follows three soldiers on a mission to find Private Ryan and bring him home safely.
We see what happens on their journey, and then we return home to discover what happened to them after they returned from war.
The last scene shows Tom Hanks’ character reading from a letter he wrote about his experiences during the war — particularly the loss.
Ending Your TV Pilot
Ending a tv pilot is such a big deal because the pilot sets up the series. It introduces the characters, gives you a sense of their world and stakes, and makes you want to continue learning more.
In many cases, it’s only one episode, so it has to be that much more compelling.
The pilot also sets up how themes will play out throughout the rest of the series, usually with a lot of foreshadowing, which is excellent if it doesn’t get too heavy-handed.
If you’re writing a pilot for a TV series based on an existing property, you’ll need to make sure what you’re doing fits in with what has come before.
In the case of a spinoff or sequel, this is even more important – fans will expect your new show to have familiar elements from the original while also bringing something new.
What do you need to do to ensure your pilot episode is as good as possible?
Here are some ideas: Start at the beginning – You may have come up with an idea for a TV show after binge-watching an entire season one weekend; don’t try and cram that into one episode!
The best pilots start at the beginning (or close to it) and give us a sense.
The Best TV Pilot Ending Examples
Whether it was a season finale or a series finale, these TV pilot endings were, for one reason or another, the best TV pilot endings ever.
The best TV pilot endings don’t always come at the end of the pilot, though. Sometimes it’s in the middle.
Sometimes, you have to leave your audience wanting more when introducing several characters and storylines.
At the end of Buff, The Vampire Slayer’s first season, viewers weren’t sure if Buffy would survive her battle with Angelus after he killed her mom.
This cliffhanger kept fans on their toes and begging for more. Other times a show will end with a big twist that leaves viewers wholly shocked.
The final scene of Six Feet Under is one of those moments that makes you wonder how they’ll be able to continue after such a shocking revelation.
Sometimes will end with an emotional bang that leaves the viewer feeling empty and wanting more. We look at some other grand TV series finales that left us wanting more!
I wasn’t sure what to call this, so I just went with the obvious. It can be challenging to decide on a pilot ending, but it’s easier if you know what works.
That’s why we will look at some of the best TV pilot endings and see what they have in common and how they can help you develop a stunning finish.
3 Ways To End A Novel Or Screenplay
There are some hard and fast rules when it comes to endings.
You can make a few mistakes that will leave readers or viewers feeling cheated, undermining the entire story.
But there’s also room for creativity. Here are three ways to end a story:
The neatly wrapped package is the most traditional type of ending, where everything explains and tied up in a bow.
Mysteries get solved, villains get brought to justice, lovers reunite, loose ends get tied up, and the hero gets a happy ending.
The problem with this type of ending is that it’s so clichéd these days that you have to work very hard just to make it feel fresh again.
It is the opposite of the neatly wrapped package ending.
Instead of tying up every loose end in sight, this kind of ending leaves some things unexplained and doesn’t necessarily have a happy conclusion for all of the characters involved.
This ending feels more realistic (life isn’t always fair).
Readers often don’t like it because they’ve wasted their time on something that didn’t go anywhere or teach them anything about life or themselves.
The ambiguous ending is my favorite type because it interprets as any number.
How To Pick The Perfect Ending For A Novel Or Screenplay In 4 Easy Steps
When writing a novel or screenplay, you must ensure that your story’s ending is the most substantial part. But picking the perfect ending can be difficult.
Here are three easy steps to follow when trying to pick the proper ending for your story:
- Step 1: Make sure the ending you pick is appropriate for the material. If your book is a comedy, it probably shouldn’t end with a depressing death scene.
Don’t end it with a royal wedding if it’s a drama!
- Step 2: Make sure that your ending is satisfying. The reader/audience wants to feel like everything in the story has been completed and any loose ends tied up.
Having an unsatisfying ending will make people think about your story for a long time after reading it, which isn’t always good.
- Step 3: Make sure that there aren’t any major plot holes in your story.
It happens when you start planning an ending but then realize that part of your story doesn’t work out, and you have to come up with something else at the last minute.
When this happens, it’s better to go back and change things before you finish writing your book or movie script so you don’t waste time trying to fix things later.
Going Further With Your Story Ending And Story Structure
Once you have a basic understanding of story structure and its relation to you as a writer, you can look at how your story might end.
I know it can be tempting to write whatever you want and not worry about how your story ends, but there is a lot of value in planning out this part of your story.
Trying to figure out how your story ends is not the same as figuring out what will happen.
You don’t need every detail worked out and laid out on a page for you.
You do need a sense of direction for where you want the overall arc of the main character’s life to go. Start by thinking about the beginning of your character’s journey.
When did their problems begin? What kind of pain or trouble did they experience? What was the inciting incident that caused them to seek change?
When you figure out the beginning, ask yourself what kind of ending would be the most logical conclusion for that beginning?
Think about the high points in their life. When were they at their happiest? When were they at their most content or satisfied?
When did things seem like they were finally going right for them?
You may find those multiple possible endings depending on what exactly happens.
How Should I End My Story?
Your story should end with a satisfying conclusion. However, you also need to avoid wrapping things up too neatly.
If you do, your reader will feel that they have read a complete story and that there is nothing more left to learn.
These tips will help you avoid the most common story mistakes to craft a satisfying ending for your readers.
How to End Your Story with a Bang?
The first thing that comes to mind when we think of our stories ending with a bang is the climax.
The climax is the point in the plot where all of the action and drama comes together.
It is where the tension is released, and your character either succeeds or fails in achieving their goal.
That does not mean that your ending has to include an actual fight scene or something as dramatic as that.
There are several other ways to end your story with a bang, though you need to make sure that they fit within the plot of your account.
The First Way: The Twist Ending The twist ending can be very effective in helping you end your story with a bang if done correctly.
A good twist should come out of nowhere and impact your main character and the central conflict.
How Can You Build A Great Ending For Your Screenplay?
Many of the great stories in our collective consciousness have a solid and satisfying conclusion.
It is simple: a good ending to a tale leaves the audience feeling emotionally satisfied.
They feel like it all made sense, and they want more.
The biggest mistake that novice writers make is that they do not invest enough time into writing a great ending, and as a result, their script feels incomplete.
So, how can you build an excellent ending for your screenplay?
Introduce the Resolution Early
It may sound counter-intuitive to introduce the resolution of your story in the beginning, but it works if you do it correctly.
The key to introducing you resolve to plant little hints throughout the screenplay about where things are heading.
It will keep your audience engaged throughout the story.
Then in the final act, you can reveal these hints to drive your audience wild with excitement as they realize what is going on!
Here’s an example from Star Wars:
At the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke has his hand cut off by Darth Vader and says that he will never be able to use The Force again.
Later in the movie, Yoda reveals that he has hidden Luke’s lightsaber in a swamp.
Formatting Your Screenplay Ending
By Samuel French
The ending of a screenplay is critical. It’s the last thing readers see before deciding whether to pass on your script or call you up and ask to meet.
So how do you write an effective ending? The first rule of thumb is that it must fulfill your story’s promise.
If your protagonist promised to get revenge, she should deliver. If the hero promised never to leave his wife, he should remain faithful.
If the villain promised to destroy the world, he should follow through with his plan. But even if you fulfill the promise, you may still be left with an unsatisfying ending.
Why? Because there are two ways to fulfill a promise: by doing or not doing.
You must ensure that the reader understands what’s happening in the scene and why it’s essential to your story’s central theme.
You might end a scene with action: a gunfight, an explosion, or a fistfight between two characters (which may then lead into another location).
In this situation, nothing much seems to be happening, then bam! The character takes action and changes her circumstances forever.
This kind of ending is dramatic and can be very exciting for readers.
The Story Ending Must Show Change
“The end must be as important as the beginning, if not more.” – Hunter S. Thompson.
“The ending is the reward for the reader, so make it count.” – Chuck Wendig.
A story with a strong ending will leave the reader satisfied and eager to read your subsequent work.
A weak ending can leave your reader frustrated, confused, and wanting their time back.
It’s challenging to craft a satisfying ending because there are many things to consider:
Plot resolution, character growth, and development, setting descriptions, build-up of tension or subplots, foreshadowing, and more.
Here are a few tips for crafting a great ending:
- Endings Must Reflect Beginning: The finish of a story should be reflective of its beginning. Nothing should happen that contradicts the original message or tone.
There must be an emotional return to where the story began so that readers feel like the journey has come full circle.
Not every story requires a happy ending, but an unhappy one must still maintain this balance.
- Endings Should Be in Character: A character’s actions should reflect their personality and attitude throughout the story.
If your main character is brash and impulsive at the beginning of your story, they shouldn’t become timid and quiet by the end unless there’s some.
Story Happy Ending Or Sad Ending?
Every story has an ending, whether the author wants it or not. It’s sad that no matter how hard we try, some accounts will end on a down note.
Treading the ending doesn’t always mean avoiding tragedy, however. So, what does it mean to have a sad ending?.
Why do Sad Endings Work?
The biggest reason for using a sad ending is that it works within the story’s context.
Sad endings can provide use with resolution or catharsis, give us a sense of understanding or help us see how certain events are interconnected.
They can also show characters in a new light or demonstrate their growth or lack thereof. When used well, they can provide us with a deeper understanding of ourselves and humanity.
Sad endings can also use as commentary on life itself—those things sometimes just don’t work out, and sometimes there are no reasonable solutions for problems except to accept them.
Embed Physical Barriers Between Your Characters And The End
When you’re writing a screenplay and want to create dramatic tension, you have to be careful about handling the final act.
If you don’t find a way to create physical barriers between your characters and the end, nothing stops the characters from getting it and ending the film prematurely.
The problem is that once your character has physically obtained what they want in the story, it is over. So, if you make it too easy for them to get it, the climax will be anti-climactic.
It’s easiest to think of this by way of an example: Imagine you’re watching a movie about a guy who’s trying to get across town during rush hour.
The audience knows that his goal is to be at work by 9:00 am—but he gets stuck in traffic and doesn’t make it until 10:00 am.
Some writers might try to solve this problem by making their boss very understanding and forgiving, but that doesn’t change that we know what will happen.
We know he’s going to make it on time because he already made it on time—therefore, even if he does get stuck in traffic again and misses an important meeting or another deadline later in the movie.
Create Internal Barriers Between Your Characters And The End
The end of a story is where an author must be conscientious. If you want your account to be good, you must create internal barriers between the characters and their end.
Description: Internal barriers are obstacles that prevent a character from achieving their goal. The character himself usually creates these barriers.
For example, let’s say that one of the characters wants to go to the North Pole. There is no physical barrier preventing him from doing so.
However, the harsh weather conditions and the expedition are lengthy and complicated. Thus, the character creates an internal barrier for himself that will prevent reaching the ultimate goal.
Example: Let’s suppose you’re writing a mystery novel about a detective investigating an accident in which some people died.
The detective will try to find out what happened to solve the crime.
However, no barrier would stop him from discovering the truth about what happened because there are no secrets or any kind of interference from other people or organizations.
The book will not be interesting enough to read because nothing prevents us from guessing what happened in the accident.
In this case, you should create internal barriers between your characters and their ultimate goals to make your book.
Summing Up How To End Your Screenplay
At last, we come to the end of this journey. You’ve created a story from scratch, fleshed it out with characters and dialogue, and brought it to a satisfying conclusion.
You may tempt to just hand in the script at this point but don’t! The final step is revising your screenplay to make sure that it’s as good as possible.
Revise it, revise it again, and then edit it some more. The difference between a good screenplay and a great one comes from the details, so you need to ensure that everything is perfect before sending it out.
There are many approaches to writing a screenplay, but I think it’s best to consider them all as a series of tools that can use to achieve the same result.
No one way is superior.
When you get your story down on paper, in some form or another, and write it well, you’re on the right track.
When it comes time to put the finishing touches on your screenplay, the first thing anyone will notice is the oversized picture items.
These include whether or not you’ve used proper formatting and followed industry standards. These are essential elements of a properly formatted screenplay.
In addition to formatting, however, specific techniques can help tie everything together at the end.
The last page or two of your screenplays is an opportunity for you to leave a lasting impression on your audience and sell them your story.