How To End Your Screenplay

Every aspiring screenwriter wants to learn how to write a screenplay that sells! It all begins with a powerhouse opening scene and a memorable ending.

The ending is arguably the most important aspect of your screenplay. It is the final impression a reader will have of your story before deciding on whether to pursue it or not.

There is much discussion about the “Hollywood” happy ending in movie scripts. While it is true that the box office responds more favorably to upbeat and uplifting endings, the ending you choose should be consistent with your main character’s arc.

The main character must work hard enough to earn their ending rather than having the story arbitrarily shunt to a forced ending.

If the main character deserves their ending, the audience will be satisfied. Writing a screenplay is hard work. Let’s take a look at how they should end.

Types Of Screenplay Endings

Happy Endings

Audiences respond better to uplifting, positive endings. This isn’t necessarily a happy ending, but an aspirational one. There needs need to be a positive element to it. Either a life lesson or at least, a partial one, even if it wasn’t the one the main character wanted.

Bittersweet Endings

Bittersweet endings involve some loss, but a lesson is learned, paving the way for a better life. In Greek tragedies, the hero invariably dies during a bloody battle. Even so, the seeds have been sown for change so the death hasn’t been in vain. The hero’s legend and accomplishments live on.

If your main character hasn’t been through an emotional and physical wringer, audience’s will disengage and dismiss the ending as absurd; even if the ending is sickly sweet. Imagine the following scenario:

Boy asks girl to dance.
Girl declines.
Boy offers girl a drink if she dances with him.
Girl accepts.
Boy and girl start dating.

Tragic Endings

Nothing works out. No lesson is learned and the main characters have an unfavorable outcome. Sadness ensues.

There’s conflict. There’s action. There’s emotion. Boy has his heart broken and he tries again. Happy ending? Hollywood blockbuster? Hmmm.

Speaking of endings, what happens after you finished your screenplay? You can get insightful notes from me to really make you think about your next draft. Click HERE for the 411, the T, the lowdown, more info, etc…

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One Comment Add yours

  1. vm says:

    to add to what you wrote, some of my favorite endings are beginnings. the… “but that’s another story” kind of ending.

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